Steve Levy Talks About Ageism & Label Questioning

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Steve is a recruiter, organizational strategist, career coach, and pundit who is passionate about our veterans, the ocean, and woman he loves. Whereas most men his age have kegs, Steve still has a six pack. Find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and The Recruiting Inferno.

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Maureen Sharib wrote about the job search nexus of being older and unemployed, which can be a pretty toxic cocktail these days. Labels are never good things to have when looking for work but being discriminated because of one’s age – younger and older – is really a kick in the shins. Age is such a relative construct yet time and again there are age “suggestions” for open positions; you never see them in ads or job specs but they’re in there.

I’m certain there are younger folks who act far more elderly than I do. I know many of you carry around Gen-Y badges that have been tarnished by old people like me but it isn’t easy being over 50 either.

I want to run a recruiting organization again –- and I am a fun person, too — but I have been relegated to consulting assignments for some time now. If you’re a consultant looking to move “inside”, during your interview you’ll be asked, “Why would you want to come inside as an employee after all this time consulting?” Never fails.

My answer is always the same:

Because I’ve been inside several times and they were the most enjoyable jobs I’ve had in my career. I was a real partner with all the business and functional leaders in planning and action. We did great things together and I will do great things with you.”

Then I smile and watch as the interviewer crafts and asks a sentence to get at the same concept but from another angle – as if I’m going fall for the chicanery. I know what they’re trying to do – since they can’t understand why an older “free-spirit” would want the structure of a “corporate job”, they’re going to attempt to convince me that I would be happier if I continued to consult rather than determine if I’m right for the role.

It’s time to ditch the labels – old, young, or unemployed are not specifications – and understand that it’s about the job, stupid!

Have you or someone you know faced “label questioning” during an interview?

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