I’ve written roughly a dozen drafts of this blog over the last few months trying to strike the right balance between tone and message, and I keep failing to get it right. So, I’m going to aim for blunt honesty and hope for the best.
No, I won’t screen out candidates based on their age.
Seriously, hiring managers…stop asking. It’s limiting. It’s illegal. And it’s dangerous.
I worked previously with a 50-something dynamo who ran circles around her co-workers…all of us. Personal style, moxie, ability to get s**t done, and ability to kick-butt on computers – she put us all to shame. And man, did she FIT with our Millennial and Gen X team. Until the day this individual retired (and yes, she did retire…it happens), she dominated as an effective member of our workplace. She made us better, called us on our crap and listened to feedback. Any company would be lucky to have her, and in any company, she would add immeasurable value.
To provide a contrasting, sneakier example:
I have recruited a lot of positions where the hiring managers have identified the age (and sometimes the gender) of the candidates they want for a position. The conversation often turns to wanting someone younger, preferably male. No, I’m not doing that either. Some hiring managers incorrectly view women within a childbearing age-bracket as a liability, regardless of their ability to positively impact the organization. I can tell you that a candidate’s potential reproductive plans are illegal to consider when hiring. Sorry, not sorry. If you’d like to know more, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission has some excellent resources to help you avoid costly and needless penalties due to human rights violations.
Few things are, quite simply, stupider than ageism in the workplace. Old or young, it’s dumb. Stop it.
Rather than putting restrictions on age, gender or other prohibited grounds, understand what the individual must be able to do, and what quality you believe happens with (or without) age. Then screen for that in your recruitment process.
If you’re worried about someone stuck in old habits, or someone who will leave for an extra buck, screen for it! Ask questions to root out these issues. Ask performance-based questions to find out how they work and think. If you just can’t help yourself, have someone else white-out the dates on resumes. There’s a way to predict a candidate’s success without resorting to bias.
It’s impossible to characterize an entire generation based on a stereotype and not shoot yourself in the foot.
You have to assess each individual to understand the value they add. What do they want out of their career? How do they balance the team you already have in both knowledge and fit? The worst thing you can do for your business is not hire the right person because of some misdirected notion on age.
Not everyone in “that” age bracket wants a cushy place to cruise until they retire.
Not everyone in “that other” age bracket is glued to their smartphone or wants you to hold their hand.
Yes, some people are looking for a place to coast. Completely true. Avoid those people if you don’t have a coast-able position. Lots of other candidates are packed with motivation and a career’s worth of ideas, inspiration and maturity. Doesn’t that sound like something you might benefit from?
Ageism is dumb and you’re smarter than that. Cut it out.
Cheryl Krestanowich is a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Acuity HR Solutions where she executes on clients’ staffing needs and provides on-site Recruitment training for Hiring Managers. For more information about Acuity HR, visit https://acuityhr.ca or find us on LinkedIn and Instagram!