In a recent conversation with a HR specialist regarding the hiring of people of “age”, this is what I was told …. “It is a generally accepted fact that applicants age 50 and over are simply not as capable of keeping up with the current marketing/social media trends often required in today’s workplace.” – HR manager (32 years of age)
I know that severe bias exists regarding aging Americans. I hate it. Obviously because I’m one of them, but more so because it is flat out WRONG. This skewed mindset has hampered some of the best people for the job … from getting the job. So. Many. Times.
I would like to dispute that mindset. LOUDLY.
But first, I would like to ask the younger generation the following question:
Do you think you could start (and run) a successful business without the Internet, smartphones, computers, Google, emails, faxes, voicemail, social media, blogs, Skype, or videos?
Because that is exactly what the “not as capable” generation did.
We were masters of networking, promotion, advertising, presentations and budgeting. Very careful budgeting. Because, back in the day, to have a business, we actually had to rent office space, furnish it, staff it, and equip it with phones, typewriters, adding machines and supplies, and place a yearly ad in the Yellow Pages so people could find us.
Today, all you need to start and run a business is a laptop, a smartphone, a website and social media.
We forged forward without all those advantages and built a myriad of successful businesses, big and small. And we did it the old fashioned way; with unmitigated courage, savvy, stamina, footwork, risk, budgeting and postage. Lots and lots of postage.
More importantly, we understood the importance of relationships in business. Real face to face conversation. Something that is often sadly missing in businesses today.
Not as capable? I beg to differ. You cannot underestimate the generation who found their first job from the employment section of The Times, hand delivered a typed (on a typewriter) resume, and had to find the destination on a Thomas Guide Map.
We are the same group of people who studied and learned about history, life, and vocation through school, encyclopedias and the public library.
In other words; we did it the hard way. And we rocked it.
Technology today has not been a challenge for the 50+ workforce. In fact, they embrace the digital age. I don’t have a peer that doesn’t own a smart phone, iPad, Surface Pro device, laptops and desk top computers. Nor do I know one that doesn’t engage actively in at least one forum of social media.
If you look on social media, you will find a very active and contributing community in the demographic of 50+ people. In many cases we represent the fastest growing demographic.
The point is, age does not equal ignorance, incapability, or unwillingness. To think so, however, does equal inexperience, unawareness and stupidity.
Age in the workplace brings with it immeasurable knowledge. Irreplaceable experience of daunting failure and precious success, formulas that work, methods that achieve, tactics that succeed and procedures that accomplish the goal.
If any HR person thinks that a workforce member of 50+ brings anything less to the table when compared to their younger counterparts, they should be sent back to the summer camp of real life. There they would learn the benefits of appreciating and revering those people who have done it better, longer, more often and with better results than they could ever hope to. And they did it with a lot less resources at their disposal.
I’m not saying that the 50+ crowd is any better than our younger counterparts. I’m simply saying we are every bit as good and carry distinct abilities given to us by the very years that are held against us.
I am sick and tired of watching my peers with fabulous resumes and incredible talent, ability, and hefty recommendations be judged by the number of years they have lived. This country needs the knowledge, loyalty, know how, work ethic and intense dedication that often comes from a 50+ candidate. When did 50 become too old? I call bullshit.
Have I mentioned that it was the generation before me that put a man on the moon?
Oh, and by the way … that computer and smart phone you’re using? Yeah, my generation invented it.
Something to think about.
Sharon Greenthal - Preach it! You are so right!
Pam@over50feeling40 - Well said!
Betsy Cobbs - What a great post, Tammy! I only hope that the under 50 and especially the 32 year old HR person who prompted this post on your blog! Betsy (Suerae’s Mom)
Chellie Campbell - Hi, Tammy – this is a great article! Good for you for standing up for us older folks. We are still capable of amazing things! Harry Bernstein, who published his first book at age 96 and then 3 more before passing away at 101, said “My nineties were the most productive years of my life.” I’ll just say that owning your own business is the ticket–you don’t have to argue for a seat at the table if you own the table.
Tammy - Hi Betsy, so lovely to meet you here. I’m a big fan of your daughter’s work (and her in general!). I emailed the post to HR person directly. I don’t imagine I will be hearing from her but I’m hoping it might jar a change of heart and mind. Stranger things have happened. Thanks ever so for the read and the comment. Welcome!
Tammy - Thanks Sharon, I’m out there making friends (snicker) and telling it like it is. Happy to see you here, thanks for that.
Tammy - Thanks, Pam, I thought so too. Although I’m sure not everyone agrees. Truth is truth, let it shine! Appreciate the read and the comment!
Carol Graham - Fabulous points. I am grateful that so far this has not been a problem for me because I have worked for myself for over 40 years!
mel glenn - Dear Tammy,
A most spirited article against ageism, but there is a gulf between what is, and what should be. A young HR person would never be crass enough to say, “you’re too old,” in the same way he would never say, “you’re black,” I can’t hire you,” but the result, sadly will be the same: NO job. You are good to fight the good fight.
Personally, I feel drowned by the technological wave. It’s a miracle I can do email.
Laurie Schwarz Hurley - Knowing what I do for a living, you just KNOW I loved this! Sharing on my business page. Power to the “old ladies!”
Carol Cassara - That’s just crazy talk, that’s what I say. Crazy talk. That HR person needs to be educated.
Tammy - No kidding, Carol. You got that right! We can only hope that progress includes those of us who know what it really means.
Tammy - AND you do blogs, Mel! You are not quite as tech challenged as you believe. But, it is easy to get drowned in it all. I fear you are correct, no matter what we put out there, the results will remain the same. That is …. until the HR people are our age. Interesting to see what happens then. Payback can be a bitch.
mickey - You KNOW I absolutely agree with every word- having been self-employed my entire life!
You rock my friend.
Joan Cooper - “There is no substitute for experience…” Be it the social media (I still do not have the courage to do that), iphones etc etc. I do have a desk top computer and run my world with that and a cell phone, and I run a number of other worlds as well and I will challenge anyone doing what I am doing.
Well, I know that is too long a sentence
Carry on, Tammy, your gift for words is awesome.
Stephanie Haibloom, Psy.D. - Great blog on Ageism! I am teaching a workshop in 2 weeks on Ageism for clinicians and will be pointing my class to this blog.
Tammy - Mickey, those of us who have been self employed have found different biases, no lie. Ageism has seldom been one of them, at least in my world. Doing what I do now, my age actually counts in my favor. Having been around the block qualifies me to show others how to do it. But those of us who are seeking full time employment in the corporate world and who happen to be 50+,its a whole other matter completely. It gladdens me to know that you are still on the other end of my blog. (smile) Love you, Mickey.
Tammy - There is NO substitute for experience, Joan, you are so right. I happen to know that you are well over 50 and you run a company and “so many other worlds”. Kudos! You are the proof of the pudding, my friend. Thanks so much for being here!
Laura Cook - #ageism thanks Tammy! Still having to handle the stigmatizm!
Tam Warner Minton - Yeah! So there! I know more about social media than my kids do!
Tammy - I have to laugh at that, Tam. I remember asking my kidlet for some social media advice a few years back. She was a bit less that patient as evidently I was asking the same question more than once. Now, I’d wager that I can draw rings around her social media skills. Not to take away from her intellect, but to add credence to the notion that us old dogs do indeed learn a lot of new tricks…and have fun doing it!
Ruth Curran - This part of the choir is singing Amen and Hallelujah. Right now
I am in an environment on a volunteer project where the average age of the volunteers is 55 and we are valued. How do we transfer that thinking to the corporate world? Another beautifully articulated piece Tammy.
Tammy - Thanks for sharing that, Ruth. I didn’t even tap in to the contributions made by our generation. They are immense and so necessary to our world. Your questions is a good one. Corporate America does not seem to be waking up to the tremendous talent out there because it is labeled with a date of birth beyond their grasp. On behalf of us all, thank your for your volunteer hours, and your kind heart. And…thank you for being here!
Carmen - Great, great blog!
I would like to ask the 32 year old H.R. Specialist….who paid or assisted with her college costs.
It just may have been that 50 plus year old grandparent!
Readers: Please try the following on our young people (who are so proficient with today’s tools). If your bill is for example $40.52…try giving them $41.02…they stare at the money and have no idea what to do. My two-cents worth.
Keep up the great posts!
Tammy - Haaaaa! Good one, Carmen, and probably true. I actually had that kind of encounter with a cashier over a week ago. She was so upset with me and thrown for a loop. Didn’t have a clue. I would have felt sorry for her but her ignorance was jarring and pathetic. It made me worry for the future. Not the first time that’s happened. Probably not the last. God help us all! Happy to know you are still out there. Thanks for that! xo
Maureen Musgrave Armentrout - So true!!
kristen houghton - Many thanks,Tammy!
Lois Alter Mark - So true! I don’t understand why our country doesn’t respect the wisdom that comes with age the way certain other cultures do. The obsession with youth is ridiculous.
Rebecca Olkowski - I actually amaze myself at how techie I am. Blogs, social media, etc. I often show people half my age how it all works. I don’t know how I managed to figure it all out because I never demonstrated that ability when I was in school. (graduated 71) I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for the last 35 years as an actor. If you’re over 25 in the biz you’re considered ancient unless you’re lucky to be Meryl Streep.
Tammy - Thanks, Maureen. So appreciate hearing it. Lovely to see you at my recent presentation on blogging. Hope you got some good take away! Thanks for stopping by!
Tammy - My pleasure, Kristen! I’m ever so pleased to have you here!
Tammy - It’s amazing what we pick up and learn, isn’t it Rebecca? I also graduated in 71. The entertainment biz is a rough go once you start to age. Who is lucky enough to be Meryl Streep?! I’m betting there are days she wonders that herself. I’m so happy you enjoyed the read and happier still you stopped by to share with me. Thanks for that.
Carpool Goddess - Agism stinks! Though I was excited to hear that my mom’s friend who is in her late 60’s was recently hired to speak at a real estate convention to teach the young whippersnappers how it’s done. We need more of that.
Carolann - I have seen so many times exactly what you are talking about. A relative of mine is going through this exact situation. I could not have said it better myself! You nailed it! What an inspiring article. I know just who to pass this gem along to. I hope it helps her in her time of frustration. Great post! Loved it!
Doreen McGettigan - I really hate that mindset too. We are the fastest growing demographic.
I teach several workshops on social media and the face on some young people that walk into the class is priceless. I am quite proud to stun them with my knowledge and I take great pleasure in them telling me that in my class they learned more in 3 hours than they ever did about social media and marketing.
Tammy - YES, we DO need more of THAT, Goddess Linda! I’m excited for your friend too. Speaking is an awesome occupation, and one that my age (61) has benefited me in achieving. I show the young whippersnappers how to do it all the time and it thrills me to no end. Thanks for stopping by and sharing! Awesome!
Tammy - I do so love when my posts are shared. Thanks for that, Carolann. I hope it gives her the punch she needs to get through. She is not alone. So very many of my friends and some family are going through this dilemma. It’s so wrong. I’m hoping to change a mind or two. We have to start somewhere. So happy to have you here!
Tammy - Hi Doreen, don’t ya just love being underestimated?! I do. It happens all the time. Keep up the good work. You are the face of success to many. So glad you enjoyed the read. I certainly enjoyed your comment!
Estelle - Our country is way behind other countries in respect for age and the wisdom of the older generation.
Melanie Kissell - The time will come when all those youngsters in human resources departments will be our age. Just one word, Tammy … KARMA. 😉
Kathleen O'Donnell - The one thing that hasn’t changed over the centuries is that the youngsters always think they know more than the older folks. As hard as it is going to be for this generation to believe, their kids will roll their eyes and think they’re all dinosaurs some day too!
Tammy - You are so right, Estelle. And what a shame that is!
Barbara Hammond - You nailed it! I had owned several business by the time I was 50 and embraced technology from the first time I touched the little MAC. Unless you’ve grown older in a cave you have to keep up with tech or you will definitely be left behind. I have friends who dabble with FB, and that’s fine if that’s all they want to do. I’m weak with twitter, but always learning. Fortunately I have my own business, so no little pip squeak can give me bullshit about heading straight for 65 and not knowing what I’m doing.
Tammy - Thanks, Barbara. Love that you use the word “pipsqueak”! I do too … all the time. One of the major advantages of being self employed is that you get to determine what your boundaries are. A huge plus in my book! Our generation has so much gathered Intel that is being completely discarded by corporate America. What a waste! So glad for the read and happy you enjoyed it!
Cheryl Nicholl - Seriously? Some one said ‘our’ generation is not as tech savvy ? Have they read our blogs?