Is age discrimination a hushed secret or a blatant action by employers filling vacant jobs? Nick Corcodilos explains why the practice continues despite some companies’ worries that they are losing out on the institutional knowledge and experience that older workers can bring to the table.
James — New York: Why aren’t you addressing blatant age discrimination?
We have millions out of work and they are being denied jobs not because of the skill set but because the younger hiring managers won’t hire them or pay them.
I had changed careers by 36 and by 38 I was facing agism. What is being done about that? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) isn’t really reaching people with public service announcement about age discrimination either.
Paul Solman: A blatant question about blatant age discrimination deserves a blatant response. Our job expert, Nick “Ask the Headhunter” Corcodilos gave one in an interview for an upcoming story that will run on PBS NewsHour Friday.
Paul Solman: How big a problem is age discrimination or are people just using it as an excuse for the fact that they’re older and can’t get jobs because their skill are obsolete?
Nick Corcodilos: There is age discrimination, but I think there are two kinds. One is when the employer is discriminating for specific reasons and doing it intentionally. For example, I had one human resources (HR) executive explain to me, “Well, older workers just have a shorter shelf life; they’re probably not going be on the job as long as a younger one, so we really try to be careful about who we’re hiring.” It’s always with sort of a wink and a nod.
The other is where you have managers who really aren’t looking to discriminate but feel a little on edge because the candidate they’re talking to is older. Sometimes they can even smell age concern on the part of the candidate and they wind up discriminating almost unconsciously.
Paul Solman: It’s obvious that age discrimination hurts older workers. But you have argued that it hurts employers even more.
Nick Corcodilos: I think that the big age problem in the job market today is really on the part of employers and that they don’t seem to be calculating the cost of age discrimination to them when they practice it. You’ll get companies who on the one hand tell us that they’re losing this great institutional knowledge and they worry about baby boomers growing older and retiring and taking all this expertise away. But on the flip side, you see that the recruiting and hiring methods as we’ve discussed before just make absolutely no sense in that regard.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor