If the War for Talent is Back, Why is Age Discrimination Alive and Well?

The war for talent is back on, according to Gretchen and Rob Merrill. Ok, I’ll buy that. I know fewer unemployed people and it seems as if people are finding jobs faster.But not all people. Those of us with gray hair are not finding it easier to find jobs. I have only anecdotal evidence, but several emails a week seems pretty strong anecdotal evidence to me.I think I know why.

  • Hiring managers are not doing enough of a job analysis. Instead of looking at functional skills and domain expertise first, they’re looking at tools and technology first. See Four Dimensions of Technical Skill. Too often, hiring managers (or whomever screens resumes) are afraid of even looking at people who don’t have 10 years of experience with whatever technology they require.
  • It’s possible older technical people are “more expensive.” When I work with hiring managers to teach them how to analyze their jobs, I see two common mistakes: thinking that salary ranges haven’t changed since they last time they hired; and thinking that someone with 5 years of experience has the same skill level as someone with 20 years of experience.

Hiring managers: don’t make the mistake of paying top dollar for anyone unless you’re convinced that person is worth it. But don’t shortchange candidates by arbitrarily setting the salary so low only someone with one or two years of experience can take the job. You’ll get the value of only one or two years of experience.If the war for talent really is on, then the people with gray hair should be able to find technical jobs more easily than they are now. Until I see that, I’m not convinced there’s really a war on.

2 Replies to “If the War for Talent is Back, Why is Age Discrimination Alive and Well?”

  1. I can agree with you that what some of us think is a war, others may see as scattered skirmishes.
    I work in the super-hot web2.0 IT, startup marketplace right now where software engineers are needed eith experinece of the most-current technology with little-to-no ramp-up. This is key right now to my clients. I don’t think any of them would care what age an applicant was, if they had the skills they needed.
    I believe what we’ve seen so-far is a rapid retraction in the “slack” the economy had. The jobs started coming in, the orders were being filled, and suddenly it’s tough to find people.
    As the economy expands, more industries will feel the pinch. Further, industries already nursing the pain will look to more creative ways (and better job analysis, as you put it) to locate resources.

  2. le to save comment (key failed)
    I can agree with you that what some of us think is a war, others may see as scattered skirmishes.
    I work in the super-hot web2.0 IT, startup marketplace right now where software engineers are needed eith experinece of the most-current technology with little-to-no ramp-up. This is key right now to my clients. I don’t think any of them would care what age an applicant was, if they had the skills they needed.
    I believe what we’ve seen so-far is a rapid retraction in the “slack” the economy had. The jobs started coming in, the orders were being filled, and suddenly it’s tough to find people.
    As the economy expands, more industries will feel the pinch. Further, industries already nursing the pain will look to more creative ways (and better job analysis, as you put it) to locate resources.

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