Tuesday, 28 June 2011

'Under Recruitment' - The new Vogue or just Age Prejudice?

I am an older member of the UK workforce so I can comment with some experience on a thorny matter.

If I had a pound for every time I have heard the phrase, 'You are over qualified (or too experienced) for a job' I would not be having to apply for jobs again.

It isn't necessarily a money thing although I am sure that plays a part. What is very surprising in all this is that most companies in the UK now have Human Resources or Capital Departments or even Talent Management rather than good old Personnel Managers. These new names are to show just how seriously companies take the quest for the best people.

Then the oddest of things occur. The self same companies tell candidates that they are too experienced or over qualified for jobs. That seems to argue straight in the face of the quest for the best talent for specific roles. It often means that 'Headhunters' who comb LinkedIn each day contact skilled people only to see them turned away. It incentivises such recruiters to pick candidates who are not 'too experienced' or possibly not over a certain age.

Now it could be that recruiting managers fear hiring people who may be as skilled or more so than themselves. If so, then the company has a problem as such managers suppress the potential for new generations of equally or better skilled people coming into the company.

Or perhaps it is good old age prejudice coming into play in a fairly unsubtle way. Maybe 'Too experienced' or 'Over qualified' are the new euphemisms for wanting people between 25 and 35, the old-style 'golden age' for employees. I wonder what the average age of Google or Microsoft new starters is but that is not to suggest they are doing anything wrong - it's just an esoteric question. The internet age is very geared toward to young, tech-savvy who rate their reputations on the number of likes they get on their Facebook page.

Whatever it is, I have had many debates with companies I work with about hiring talent versus warm bodies. In the strife to become the best in your particular market, it pays to over recruit not under recruit, in my book.

Recruiters, HC/HR/Talent Management and hiring managers have roles to play here but mostly it is a scene set by CEOs and Directors. If you want the best, don't kid yourself when you recruit.

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