Thursday, May 14, 2009


This is a great piece from Sarah Sladek's enewsletter. It has some great suggestions for us all. Enjoy!

"In the tug-of-war for talent, it's the new college grad versus the experienced worker. Usually, in the game of tug-of-war one side is pulled into a humiliating, muddy loss. But in this round, it seems as if both generations are getting dragged through the mud.

A whopping 1.5 million undergraduates will receive their bachelor’s degrees this year. They will collide with 1.85 million workers who are currently unemployed, in large part because of widespread layoffs.

Media critics and bloggers the world over are choosing sides and advising employers on which demographic to hire. Some say retain older workers, others say recruit younger workers. But everyone has an opinion one way or the other.

In fact, when The New York Times posted a blog last month titled 'Older Workers Need Not Apply', the post received hundreds of comments, criticizing everything from older workers’ technology deficits to young people’s yoga breaks. (More mud-slinging.)

But not only do today's job-seekers have to worry about combatting negative stereotypes, they also have to try to conceal their age. As I have read the which-generation-is-the-best-to-hire debates in this tug-of-war, I've noticed that advice-givers are encouraging job seekers to do anything but act their own age.

Here are a few of the interviewing tips I've recently read. (Yes, these are actual tips gleaned from job-related articles!)

For the new grad: Act older.

* Don't have your parents call us. Helicopter parents won't help your situation.

* Be mature. Show us that you can turn on the professionalism in a way we wouldn't expect from a 22-year-old.

* Dress appropriately. No one who wants to be taken seriously should be wearing anything low-rise or low-cut to an interview. Ditto for Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts and flip flops.

* Your sky-high ambitions (and salary expectations) are meaningless. Prospective employers don’t want to know how they can fulfill your life. They want a compelling reason as to why they should hire you and what you bring to the table.

* Never ask about a company's declining stock. A question like this reveals to a prospective boss that you are either (a) preoccupied with the idea that the company is tanking or (b) preoccupied with details of the company that are way beyond the scope of the position at hand. Either way the question definitely does not scream, “Hire me! I’ll be easy to manage!"

For the experienced worker: Act younger.

* Make us believe you're tech savvy. Get on Facebook and Twitter. Learn how to text.

* Don’t show up with a newspaper. Young people get their news online--they don't read newspapers. So don't carry one into an interview with you or be seen reading it at the office like someone's mom or dad (even if you are someone's mom or dad).

* Rarely refer to your children. Never refer to your grandchildren. Never ever refer to your great-grandchildren.

* Don't refer to young people as ‘kids’. Referring to younger co-workers (or young interviewers) as ‘kids’ will catapult you into instant elderly status.

* Make an effort to look young. If it’s been a while since you suited up for an interview, don’t show up wearing polyester or shoulder pads. Dress according to current fashions and get a current hairstyle. Men should trim nose and ear hair. Use Crest Whitestrips beforehand to brighten your teeth.

This trend of interviewing older or younger is a reminder that no one is feeling secure in their futures. Unfortunately, it's also yet another way we're pitting generations against one another and widening the gap.

Let's face it--with a national unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, finding a job is not easy for anyone. And we're making it worse by lumping job-seekers into generational categories, rather than assessing individuals for their unique skills and qualifications.

In short, everyone is walking around with mud on their face and it's a big disgrace.

The sooner we realize each generation has something of value to offer and we stop trying to value one generation over the other, the sooner everyone can quit obsessing about age, start rebuilding relationships, and get back to business."

* Want to learn more? Here are two events you don't want to miss!
(Click titles for more information)
How and Why Y: Recruiting and Retaining the Next Generation
Keeping Your Association 'Cutting Edge' webinar
* And watch for your e-invite to the nation's first generation-themed business conference -- the RockStars@WorkConference -- to arrive next week!

Sarah L. Sladek, President & CEO"

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