In the August 13, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader fends off age discrimination.
I am 70 years old and still actively working. I have been a consultant for an energy company since early this year, serving in an interim role. The company had a disastrous last year. I was brought in to help turn some of this around in the first quarter and “stand in” until a full-time person arrived. This was to have been a 4-5 month assignment; I am still here. I know I will not be brought on because of my age and I accept this.
I have started searching again, now that the assignment is drawing to a close. I had a recruiter locate me on Monster.com and ask for my “full” resume, which I sent. Later in the day I received a text asking for “your DOB.” I responded “16 July,” to which I received a note saying, “Before I submit your resume to my client I need the year.”
I told her to remove me from her database and thanked her for bringing ageism into play. Is there anything I should have done? Just because I am 70 doesn’t mean I’m senile or moving around using a walker!
Thank you for your column. Even in my “advanced age,” I get what you teach.
I collect stories from people who continue to work well into their 60s, 70s and even 80s. Thanks for yours! They all have one thing in common: They are forthright and spirited.
The age question
No recruiter needs your date of birth (DOB) for any reason I can think of, so I’m glad you told that one to take a hike. But please consider that if you’re going to swim in shark-infested waters, you’re likely to get bitten. Monster.com and its ilk are thick with recruiters like the one that found you. It’s up to you to avoid risky waters.
You could be discriminated against anyway, but job hunting online makes it even more likely a person will be rejected due to their age. The impersonal, rapid-fire Q&A that recruiters can do via e-mail, chat and texts with eager job seekers makes it easier to discriminate.
So, no, there’s nothing else you should have done. You avoided wasting your time further. If you expect to get hired because of your qualifications, then it’s up to you to control how a recruiting exchange occurs.
Show them the green
The only way I know to test a recruiting pitch is to expect the recruiter to evaluate you for what you can do to make the employer more successful. That’s also how you will get past biases. In the case of age, you want to arrange it so you can show them the green — how you will benefit their business — before they get distracted by the grey of your hair or your birth date. (See Age Discrimination: Help me market my dad!)
You don’t say how you’ve gotten your jobs during the past ten years. Whatever it is, keep doing it. My guess is that you rely on your reputation and abilities, not on random queries. Don’t be distracted by recruiters demanding to know your age. Fast-paced, high-volume, automated online recruiting doesn’t permit you to communicate the information that will get you interviewed and hired. That requires a one-to-one dialogue.
So ask yourself, no matter who is recruiting you, do they take time to talk with you about the job and about how — exactly — you might be able to help do the job profitably for the employer?
If the recruiter declines a substantive discussion about those two topics, you know you’re not being recruited. It’s just a cold call that’s not likely to go anywhere.
If a recruiter indicates they don’t really know anything about you, don’t waste your time because that’s not really a recruiting call. I strongly suggest you rely on your personal contacts – and develop more of them – for your job search. Here’s a four-step outline for how to leverage this: Ask The Headhunter in a nutshell.
You’ve been doing this long enough that you probably know everything in that article. I just want to remind you that it works, and that the likes of Monster.com don’t.
Are you still working in your 60s, 70s or later (hopefully by choice)? How do you do it? How do you handle queries from recruiters? Have you encountered age discrimination? What can we do about it?