Documenting and Detailing Discrimination Against the Decrepit

For those of us who have taken marketing coursework, we know that one of the most important aspects of any marketing plan is to identify your target market. If you aim at the wrong target, you will surely fail to achieve your goal. In my career, I have sold, excuse me marketed, over a million dollars’ worth of merchandise, to various target markets. One of my hard-learned fundamental precepts of marketing is that you should never try to market something that you wouldn’t purchase yourself.  I have done marketing research as well, and it was so good that students in the next class copied my research design, almost to the letter. You will always know the value of your work by who copies it, steals it, or claims that it is their own. While I wasn’t necessarily offended by their behavior, I resented that the professor approved and encouraged it. He probably didn’t even use my name when describing the design. The design was a unique idea, but certainly not the first and far beyond the last of the fruits of my mind.

 

When recruiting potential employees, you are essentially selling the company to a postulant. But if no one was aware that a company or organization was looking for employees, the number of candidates would be limited. Selling is marketing, and marketing is selling. My favorite jokes is: “Do you know what they call a salesman who can’t sell anything? The director of marketing.” Much like digging ditches, if the poor sots digging the trenches have defective shovels whose handles break all the time, they still get blamed for not getting the ditch dug.

 

I like to keep up with the trends of my chosen profession, and scan the media as well as the postings of the professional organization to which I belong (and pay for membership). I recently came across what I consider  a disturbing article of advice for employment recruiters. I want the website to receive full credit for this, so I will reveal the source: the website is http://www.recruitingbrief.com. They deserve all of the credit for this.

 

The recommendation on the website recrutingbrief.com was titled: “How to Write Job Ads for Millennials and Gen Z.” While I understand, to a certain extent, people are targeted for certain positions, tailoring a want ad for people with a physical property (in this case being young people) is the same as targeting people of a certain persuasion or gender. But let’s not take my word for it. I am only an SHRM-CP, that is to say, Society for Human Resource Management-Certified Professional. You don’t just ask for that certification and it is given to you, you earn it by taking a two-and-a-half hour test examination that is, from my experience, neither simple nor easy, and I have taken quite a few tests in my career.

 

The following statements are quoted from the article: "Every company wants to attract hot young talent, but seasoned recruiters have learned that what worked ten years ago doesn’t have the same results today… For employers, learning to write job ads that speak to what appeals to today’s young workers is critical to drawing the best of the best in your organization, and increasing retention.” To me, as a Human Resource professional, this sounds discriminatory. According to the writer of the article, what an organization is looking for is someone young, and I see nothing vague or even diverse in that statement. 

 

I refer you now to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, under the category of "Job Advertisements” which reads: “It is illegal for an employee to publish a job advertisement that shows a preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy) national origin, age (40 or older) disability or genetic information...For example, a help-wanted ad that seeks "females" or "recent college graduates" may discourage men and people over 40 from applying and may violate the law." You can read this yourself at: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/.

 

The article also states: “Tuition reimbursement, time off to take online courses, management training, and other professional development opportunities can attract young workers who are looking to grow their careers.” Certainly, this could not apply to an older worker, or so this article suggests. In a clearly discriminatory passage, the article states: “Remember, Millennials have been in the workforce for less than ten years, and Gen Z is just only beginning to enter the workforce. When you are looking to recruit these workers, focusing on skills, rather than on past work experience, is critical. Most of these workers will come with valuable hard and soft skills but will have to gain experience on-the-job…So, while your list of required skills can include hard and soft skills, skip stringent work requirements which this group of job seekers may not be able to meet.” So, the idea is to reject experienced workers in favor of the Millennials or the Gen Z applicants. Even, if you have to, lower the required qualifications in order to get Millennials or the Gen Z applicants. Good to know. Lower your standards in order to get younger employees. I cannot remember in any of my Human Resources coursework or on the certified professional exam, where they mentioned lowering requirements to get young workers as a strategy. I must be old, I missed that meeting.

 

It is also important to describe job positions that will appeal to Gen Z and Millennials: “While employers might think that job titles that incorporate offbeat descriptors like ‘wizard,’ ‘rock star,’ or ‘guru’ might appeal to younger workers, Gen Z and Millennials want clarity when it comes to job titles. Since nearly all job searches now happen online, younger generations want easy-to-search job titles that are self-explanatory.” By all means, do not encourage or even practice diversity, just target your advertised position to the young people. Under the heading of "Recruitment" the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states: "It is also illegal for an employer to recruit new employees in a way that discriminates against them because of their race, color, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy) national origin, age (40 or older) disability or genetic information... For example, an employer's reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic." You can read it yourself at: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/. 

 

I have serious doubts as to whether the writer of this article has any knowledge or understanding of the legal restrictions involved in hiring. The staff of this website (again, recruitingbrief.com) is most likely unaware that the article is flagrantly suggesting violating federal regulations. If any of the people who wrote, reviewed or posted this article understood the legal ramifications of this behavior, they would not suggest it. This article documents the unembellished illegal and discriminatory behavior of recruiters. They flout the law and discriminate with reckless abandon, and they are quite keen on disseminating the techniques for just such behavior to their colleagues. 

 

The sad part is that these techniques of discrimination are de rigueur in today’s recruiting environment. Lowering standards to get the young workers into the workplace is now the mantra. I do not, however, recall policies that lowered requirements to get younger workers when I was young, but that was then, this is now. Ignoring federal regulations unabashedly is apparently knowledge to be shared among professionals. It is everything but professional, and these abecedarians consider it the gospel. We live in a society that worships youth, and some are determined to proselytize the unbelievers.

 

Comments

Dave Volek Added Jun 28, 2018 - 3:08pm
I would say the old saying applies: "You get what you pay for." Any firm who uses this recruiting firm is limiting itself.
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 28, 2018 - 3:14pm
Yes Dave, they're sacrificing experience. Thanks for your comments.
Autumn Cote Added Jun 28, 2018 - 6:08pm
Please note, it's against the rules to post article to Writer Beat unless you comment on the work of others.  
Sam Nowaczynski Added Jun 29, 2018 - 5:50am
It’s not against the law to rely on word of mouth from existing employees to find new employees.  You should read your own link.
 
As for discrimination in the hiring of one’s workforce, of course it’s done and of course the Federal Government looks the other way.  A law is just a meaningless sheet of paper if it can’t be enforced.  Let’s say a strip club is looking for more dancers, are we all to believe it’s just by chance all its new-hires are good looking young women? 
 
Rather than blame your predicament on employers that you think are unabashedly breaking Federal Law, you need to stop behaving like a victim.  There are good reasons to be skeptical of a job-seeking older worker.  Not to mention the fact younger workers are generally hungrier (meaning they’ll work cheaper) and more physically capable.   I don’t blame anyone for choosing youth. 
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 29, 2018 - 7:53am
It’s not against the law to rely on word of mouth from existing employees to find new employees.  You should read your own link. The only thing mentioned about word of mouth is the federal regulation, which states: For example, an employer's reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic." That’s as close as it gets to anything about word of mouth. The article is about posting open positions, not employees talking about open positions.   
Let’s say a strip club is looking for more dancers, are we all to believe it’s just by chance all its new-hires are good looking young women?  Under certain conditions, the law allows gender preferences. For example, if a bikini model is needed, the fact that a female model is needed is considered essential criteria, and is therefore not a violation of EEOC regulations. I guess I didn’t make that clear, and I guess you understand very little about employment law.
Behaving like a victim? If I saw, say, a nationwide retail chain violating the law, let’s say, in transportation, and I wrote about it, I wouldn’t be blaming my predicament or claiming I was a victim, I would be reporting violations of federal regulations. This would be like me writing an article on transportation suggesting that hours of service regulations be ignored, because you can get a lot done if you ignore regulations.  I thought I made it clear that I was evaluating professional and legal conduct. There are certainly ways to reach certain demographics if you want their attention, and I should know, as I have written research papers on that very subject (one was 35 pages by the way). That is why the article is prefaced with my experience in marketing research.
Federal regulations violated every day, yes. If you were in finance and someone wrote an article on how to succeed, and the article blatantly suggested the violation of SEC rules in order to succeed, would you be playing the victim or blaming your predicament?
The article is about professional conduct, or the lack of it. Most people don’t earn professional certifications just to ignore the laws, and the ones who are caught and fined (not to mention being stripped of their credentials) have a lot to lose. The even bigger potential losers are the firms that hire these regulatory scofflaws. I have had secondhand EEOC employment issues, and they are not a terribly friendly bunch from my experience. They take their jobs seriously. Discrimination is not a joke, as you might find if you have to deal with them. Blatantly suggesting violating federal regulations, when there are other strategies to approach the challenge, illustrates a lack of professional knowledge and understanding of employment strategies. I guess neither you nor the people involved saw that.
Finally, why stop at age? Why not race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy) national origin, age (40 or older) disability or genetic information. Why not write an article on how to side-step the regulations on those groups as well, since, as we all know, those folks are just blaming their predicament on discrimination, and they consider themselves victims, and they just need to buck up and get real about the situation and stop feeling sorry for themselves.
opher goodwin Added Jun 29, 2018 - 10:17am
Marketing is not something I've ever been keen on. That's probably why I don't do it.
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 29, 2018 - 10:50am
Yes, Opher, I see a lot of "marketing" jobs open, then open , then open. Many of them are advertised as "PR" and they are not "PR" at all. So many of the "marketing" companies always have positions open because no one stays very long. As I said, never try to sell anything that you wouldn't buy, period. Let me add, don't try to sell anything that you wouldn't buy without a sales pitch. Having been in sales, er, excuse me "marketing" I can't tell you how many commissions that I was never paid. I've seen "marketing" companies that held out paying commissions for as long as possible, I guess hoping that the salesman would forget that they owed him, or just give up and leave. I recommend, if possible, holding something of value that the company owns until you are paid the commission. While this can get tricky, you can tell them you will return their property as soon as they pay you the commission that they owe you.  (Make sure you have solid evidence that they indeed owe you commissions, in case they call the authorities. The other thing to do when holding company property in lieu of commissions is to send them a certified letter or  have in your possession a signed acknowledged letter stating that you will return their property when they pay you what they owe you.)
My favorite sales pitch to prospective employees is "how much money do you want to make?" My favorite was an interview (which I pretty much knew I was going to turn down any offers because it was one of those ridiculous D2D sales jobs) with a "vice president" who looked like a freshman in college. I asked him a "marketing" question, and he had no idea what I was talking about. Things just went downhill from there. Any college sophomore with a few marketing classes would have known the answer.
Regarding the D2D firms, I love the slightly-out-of-focus pictures of the "sales team" which is usually a rag-tag looking bunch wearing ill-fitting clothes, and when you ask names, at least one of the "sales team" has left since the picture was taken.
I remember one of those "marketing" interviews where the manager interviewing me said that he had made, in commissions, over $50k in the last six months, meaning he was pulling down $100k a year. He sure didn't dress like he was making $100k. I could have gone into any Goodwill store and walked out dressed better than he was. As I like to say, if you're making $100k a year, you should look like you're making $100k a year, especially if you're trying to impress interviewees. Thanks for the comments Opher.
Fernando Alcoforado Added Jun 29, 2018 - 3:27pm
Jeff Jackson, I agree with you that we live in a society that worships youth, and some are determined to proselytize the unbelievers. On paper, companies even recognize the importance of having more experienced professionals in teams. But in practice, they continue to give preference to younger candidates in selection processes. The advantage of younger people is due less to the merit of those in early careers and more to the prejudice of recruiters (and companies) compared to professionals over 45, 50 years old.
The barriers that discourage the hiring of the more experienced are due to the fact that older professionals are less flexible and adaptable to changes than the younger ones. The ease of younger people working with new technologies is also a factor that boosts the chances of new generations in the job market. Older people would have more difficulty with that. Another reason for young people's preference for older people is that younger people have lower pay.
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 29, 2018 - 4:06pm
I agree Mr. Alcoforado. But I would counter that older people have seen more change than younger people, and have probably had to change and adopt new technology much more than young people. You might look at one of my essays on why I'm not learning any more software until I know for a fact that it will pay to know it. I learned all kinds of software and invested all kinds of time and money that yielded me nothing, when numerous people told me how valuable I would be if I knew it. Compared to any young person, someone like myself has seen more software come and go than a pigeon at Grand Central Station.
One of my Millennial bosses knew almost nothing about the business, but a lot about computers. As I have so often described this person, they wouldn't know an oil filter from an exhaust pipe, and both were critical in that particular industry. This boss liked to trace problems back to their roots and write long reports on why things went wrong, while I made phone calls and resolved the problems. Obviously, the boss couldn't have some new hire solving all the problems while they just wrote reports on why their efforts failed. I sincerely did not understand how that person even got the position, since their problem-solving skills were about the size of a comma on a sheet of paper.
Ever wonder why some of the foreign economies do so much better than ours? They keep the people who know how the businesses operate, instead of bringing in youngsters who run the business into the ground within a few years.
Fernando Alcoforado Added Jun 29, 2018 - 4:45pm
Jeff Jackson, I agree with you that older people have seen more changes than younger ones, and they probably had to change and adopt new technologies much more than young people. Respect your point of view about your software learning that invested all your time and money that has paid you nothing, but you must admit that we live in an era in which the use of information technology is becoming widespread and requiring the mastery of software by the workers. Your comment about your work experience where you solved the problems and your boss produced reports is a tremendous management aberration. You are quite right in saying that in some of the foreign economies they do much better than the United States because they keep people who know how businesses operate instead of bringing in the youngsters who run the business into the ground within a few years.
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 29, 2018 - 8:37pm
Thanks for your comments Mr. Alcoforado.
Kurt Bresler Added Jul 1, 2018 - 5:26am
YOur article brings to mind a new commercial on TV where the car salesman is singing a rap song about the car.   This is why young people are recruited not because of their knowledge of the product but because of their ability to relate and communicate with those of their generation.  Young people also reflect energy,  any company knows communication and energy will get results.. more results than a smarter guy who may hold on to old rules.
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 1, 2018 - 6:56am
In that aspect, Kurt, you may well be correct. I remember when I sold, excuse me, "marketed" retail. The department manager was a retired teacher who had decades of experience. That man, named Jack, had forgotten more about retailing the product than I could have ever known. I learned a great deal of things from him, and as I said, my knowledge and abilities could not even approach his.
Applying what he taught me, I was one of the top salesmen, excuse me, "marketers" in the company. He chose to share what he knew with me and I could never have done as well without the knowledge he passed on to me. Energy and communication are very little without understanding the products, strategies and tactics. Youth might bring you some things, but knowledge, strategy and tactics come with experience, not youth. Thanks for your comments Kurt.
Incidentally, the buyer of the retail products was also an older gentleman, who while crusty and easily riled, knew the industry inside and out, and stocked my shelves with a great array of products. Again, without the help of an older gentleman, I would never have been as successful as I had been. Thanks again, Kurt.
Leroy Added Jul 1, 2018 - 8:30am
I don't blame companies for recruiting a younger workforce.  When I was fifty, the average age at my company was fifty.  If the company hadn't embarked on a youth hiring binge, ten years later, death, retirements, and resistance to change would have been disruptive.  Social Security is just a way of kicking out the older crowd to make way for the younger crowd.  I'm all in favor of favoring youth.
 
There is hope.  I hear that jobs seekers are in such short supply that recruiters are recruiting the prison population.  That's good for workers on many levels.
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 1, 2018 - 8:53am
Leroy, I'm all for having young people in the workforce, but not all of the workforce.This "expert" is offering up advice I would not consider valuable or professional, especially when it runs afoul of federal regulation.
Mixing up young, old, and different persuasions is what we call diversity, which is mandated by federal regulation. As for hiring from prisons, as I have said many times, one of the best workers I ever hired was a former bank robber. He was honest almost to a fault, and hated thieves with a passion. I guess he got a gut full of miscreants in the joint. I personally had a good experience with an ex-con, though I know of people who didn't, and I have worked with criminals who were a real pain. Thanks for your comments Leroy, insightful as ever. 
Red October Added Jul 2, 2018 - 2:40pm
Not getting a job because of your age is different than not getting a job because you’re decrepit.  In fact, anyone that’s old and takes a few moments to think about the title and body of this article, should be insulted by the title.  As for older workers being discriminated against, I’m sure there are plenty of younger workers that also feel discriminated against, not to mention women and people of color.
 
Back to younger workers, to them, getting a job is a catch-22.  In other words, too many companies are looking for candidates with experience and they’re trying to land a job to gain experience.  I suppose everyone that doesn’t get a job can cry about being discriminated against. 
 
Rather than blame and sue employers for hiring workers, we should applaud them and encourage them to do it more often.  This article makes them all out to be felons. 
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 2, 2018 - 5:18pm
Red October: "Decrepit" is the way they (the recruiters) see anyone over 50 years of age. While not complimentary, you missed the insinuated point.
As for the violations of the law, the regulations are cited in the text, to avoid confusion. They are, if they do as they suggest, violating federal regulation. Thanks for comments.