WorkWise: Not all managers hire by generation

culp@workwise.netNovember 18, 2012 

A recent survey on behalf of the staffing firm Adecco USA Inc. finds that hiring managers will hire Matures (50 years old and above) over Millennials (22 through 31 years old).

In fact, they hire Matures three times as often (60 percent versus 20 percent). As might be anticipated because of the level of responsibility, the 501 hiring managers contacted by telephone tended to be older rather than younger, with 43.3 percent ages 18 to 44-plus and 57 percent 45 and above. What implications does the survey have for job seekers?

Results of the survey, conducted by Braun Research Inc., might surprise many job seekers over age 40 convinced their unemployment or underemployment results from hiring discrimination. However, Adecco points out that more than a third of hiring managers think older workers sell themselves poorly in interviews.

Survey participants were in greater agreement (75 percent) over inappropriate interview attire among Millennials and damaging social media content (70 percent). Some of that content can be rectified and employers can seek commitment to a certain level of employee attire.

James Wallace would hire Matures over Millennials because of the stronger work ethic. He’s president of ElectroSoft Inc., an electronics industry contract manufacturer in Montgomeryville, Pa. For at least ten years he’s watched young laborers come and go, although Millennials in office jobs have been more stable. About 60 percent of ElectroSoft’s 25 employees are Matures.

Still, Millennials who pass the proficiency tests are a step closer to getting a job at ElectroSoft. Wallace may show the next one who walks in the door the company’s policies and procedures.

“I’d give the person a written copy and highlight the section,” Wallace explains. “I’d say that in the past we’ve had problems with people not adhering to the policy.” Then he’d gauge the applicant’s reaction.

He points out that a Millennial who senses an employer is stereotyping him should communicate his knowledge of the stereotype. Be direct, Wallace recommends, with “I know what the stereotypes are and I’m here to dispel them.” The applicant who tells an employer he leaves his technology in the car to avoid being distracted and promises to be on time every day increases his odds of being hired.

AN ALTERNATIVE

As the marketplace continues to dissect generational topics, often suggesting one generation is better in one respect than another, a pattern emerges. It’s just like the gender wars. Banning stereotypes won’t go away as long as the mantra shifts endlessly from older to younger and back.

Chris Smith, co-founder and partner of ARRYVE LLC, an unusual cross-disciplinary management consultancy in Redmond, Wash., disagrees with the generational premise of the Adecco survey. All 55 of his employees came on because of their “drive and ability to produce results,” he remarks. The downside of the approach is that it creates extra work for interviews, but that is first-time-only and requires reflection as a company. Thereafter, he states, “it’s all about efficiency and greater ability to select the right individual.”

If you want to find a company thinking like Smith, be clear about what you offer and find a company that wants it. Is it driven by results or politics? Does it compensate for results? Will it specify them for you?

He also recommends speaking with other employees about their careers there. Have they been able to advance after a reasonable period of time? Do they lead their own careers? If so, they have drive. “If five out of six have advanced and do have drive,” he notes, “the company might have just what you need.”

Whether an employer thinks generationally or not, savvy job seekers of any age still have a chance at getting a job.

Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2012 Passage Media.

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