Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Some Issues with Hiring More Experienced People

[in progress 7/9/2013]

I apologize.  I wanted this essay to be much more sarcastic and biting and self-deprecating, but it just has not come out that way.  It is mostly just serious and with a little sarcasm about American industry and the importance of lying to workers to motivate them.   Maybe the essay will evolve into something more vicious later, with time.

In America, ageism is everywhere.   And American industry is very ageist in its hiring policies.   But are there potentially good reasons for this discrimination?  Is there perhaps a dark side to hiring an older, more experienced worker, one with a reputation in the field, and a style and name that goes along with it?  Are there genuine good reasons to stay away from such people?

Yes, there are such reasons and we know that a priori because in America the actions of business are the leading indicators of right and wrong in our society and they are certainly ageist.

In America, the company is always right because the company is endowed with the test of efficiency in a perfectly competitive market.  Therefore if the company is ageist in their hiring practices, as nearly all of them are, then it has to be for a good reason.  Anything that the company does not want to do, e.g. hire older and more experienced workers,  must ipso facto be inefficient and lead to the destruction of America and its way of life.  It is up to us to explain why ageism is the right thing by examining the case studies provided us by industry.

Technically, ageism in hiring is against the law.  But the law is deliberately written to make this impossible to enforce and so practically there are no serious legal impediments to discrimination on the basis of age.

It is commonly said that older workers are not hired because they are more expensive.  I don't think so, I think that the older and more experienced but out of work professional will absolutely compromise on salary compensation without a moment's hesitation if it meant getting a serious position for a serious company that allowed him or her to do their work, whatever that may be.

But there *is* a dark side with hiring older, more experienced workers.   In some ways, an older worker can be like a disease that contaminates the corporate ethos, and may unconsciously or consciously undermine the esprit de corps that the corporation is working so hard to establish.

Here are some of the ways in which having an experienced worker can cause problems.  

1. Its harder to lie to a more experienced worker.

Go team, this will change the world! Burn yourself out and you will be recognzied for your achievement and establish yourself! But the older worker is living proof that this is a bad strategy.  These workers *did* burn themselves out, they did do groundbreaking work, and they didn't get shit for it, nor are they the least bit recognized for their achievements after a few years. As we say in Los Angeles, that and $3.50 will buy you a decaf espresso in this town.  Thus the older worker may act as an impediment when the time comes to lie to the workers and exploit them because that worker is a living example of what their fate may be.

2. The older worker is by their very nature a failure, and failure is hard to have around.

We want a rah, rah, don't think just do as you are told culture here. Part of that culture has to be the belief that what the worker is doing will lead to their success, ultimately. Sure they may not own any of the upside of their work, being disenfranchised workers in the classic sense, but ultimately, the story goes, this effort will lead to their fame and fortune, trust me. But the company will eventually go under, as most of them do, or be acquired and under new management, as the rest of them do, or had layoffs as all of them do. And all but a few ended up with their paycheck and that is it. People who DID good work and took care of people, and then just got fucked and discarded and had to find a job. Well that person is not only a failure in the eyes of America, but even worse, it is possible that the younger workers would realize that the career path they are on may very well lead to the same result. Well, that is not a good way to get people to mindlessly and enthusiastically do as they are told.

3. Older workers bring a history with them.

Good or bad, older workers have done things in their life.  That means they know people, and some people like them and usually some people don't.   And people are competitive, and frankly, some people are just fucking crazy.  But when you hire an older worker you also hire a person who has a network of people in the field who have made up their minds about the person you have hired.  Maybe it would be better to just hire a new person who has no history and keep things simple.

4. Older workers bring other company cultures with them.

Corporate culture is real.  Building a culture is critical to building a company.  If someone does not fit in, possibly because they have done things differently in other companies, then that person may represent an obstacle to building the culture you desire.    Better to hire someone with little background, they will be easier to indoctrinate into the company way.

5. The older worker may expect, stupidly, to be able to learn from their experience.

We are told such stupid things as we are growing up "he never made the same mistake twice". I am here to tell you today that I have been compelled to make the same mistake over and over again because I had no choice, it was either take the job or not. But the more experienced worker, innocently thinking that it is part of their life and work to be able to learn from their mistakes, may not realize that no one wants to fix the problem.  Telling your management what you have learned and about a way to proceed that you think is better, or about what the problems are with their approach is exactly the wrong thing to do.    You may never be forgiven.    It will either annoy them because their tiny ego can not stand being wrong about something, or it will annoy them because they knew that already and they want you to shut up and do it their way, or it will annoy them because they do not understand a word of what you are talking about and that scares them.

So hiring a younger worker is much better, they have no experience to mention and therefore are much more likely to comply and do as they are told, which brings us to our last issue.

6. Younger people are less of a political threat

Maybe if you hire the older worker, who is qualified to be your boss or your boss's boss, something weird will happen and they will end up with your job. Since you know that you are a worthless piece of shit that does not deserve the job you have, this is a real and practical concern.  Of course, you may also be replaced by one of the younger people you hire as well, so it is not clear what this buys you.

In conclusion, it seems clear that the younger worker will be more pliable, have less history, and won't try to tell you how to do your job.   The answer is clear.   One should hire younger workers, burn them out, then discard them so that they can go away to live the rest of their life in misery and poverty.

That is the American Way.

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