Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hiring the LEAST qualified

Last year I was passed over for a promotion, which ended up being given to a woman nearly half my age. She became my boss. Although she was very physically attractive, she left much to be desired mentally. She constantly sought help from her subordinates who, because they were hot-blooded males, were more than happy to oblige. I, on the other hand, wasn’t into information sharing. I figured if she was getting paid double my salary to do what I had already been doing, then she needed to figure out on her own how to do her job.

What happened to me is indicative of what is happening to many of my fellow baby boomer buddies in the workplace today. We are being shoved aside for younger, but not necessarily brighter, employees. It’s a disturbing trend that is bound to make matters worse as businesses look for cheaper way to run their operations.

Corporate America must take some of the responsibility for pitting the young against the old. Many companies don't want to pay for experience. They would rather hire someone with the ability to do the job for less money than pay top dollar to a more experienced older employee. Some businesses aren't as interested in quality as they are in the bottom line: PROFIT.

Young people, eager to get a foot in the door, often times will accept less money and learn just enough to move on. What some businesses fail to realize is knowledge and years of experience go a long way in keeping them from making the same mistakes over and over again.

According to a researcher from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, potential employers are more likely to discriminate against older workers. Johanna Lahey sent out 4,000 resumes, of people between the ages of 35 and 62, to firms in Boston, MA and St. Petersburg, FL. Her findings indicated younger workers were 40 percent more likely to be called back for an interview than an older worker, defined as 50 years and older. Furthermore, she cited the top ten reasons why employers said OTHER employers might be reluctant to hire older workers:

1) Shorter career potential
2) Lack of energy
3) Cost of health and life insurance and pensions
4) Less flexible/adaptable
5) Higher salary expectations
6) Health risks/absences
7) Knowledge and skills obsolescence
8) Block career path of younger workers
9) Suspicion about competence
10) Fear of discrimination lawsuit

The truth of the matter is baby boomers are living longer and need to make ends meet just like their younger counterparts. Corporate America must be willing to recognize the pool of talented applicants no matter who old they are.

In case you’re wondering what ever happened with my younger boss…well, after I left the company, she decided she wanted to be a stay at home mom.

You can read more about this subject matter in my book: Whatever! A Baby Boomer's Journey Into Middle Age.

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