Young-at-Heart Human Resource Seeks Work

What kind of term is Human Resources anyway? Doesn’t it evoke images of exploitation? Fine, if that’s what you call employees, I’m a human resource—a good one—but it doesn’t matter how reliable, ethical, or conscientious I am, I wouldn’t fit into your corporate culture.

I’m not a social-media addict, but if you hired me, you’d have an employee who comes to work every day, on time, who isn’t a slave to a smartphone. It’s true I would be ignorant of knowing who’s stuck in traffic or how last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy ended. I know these current events are important, but I’d prefer to focus on the work.

My unpopular methods of communicating include speaking and writing articulately and having a lifelong understanding of the apostrophe. This isn’t really considered a skill anymore, but I don’t think I could shake the habit. I promise not to mention the numerous and rather obvious mistakes on your company’s website.

If you land on my blog you’ll find opinions. Maybe you won’t agree with them, so I have to worry about that too. I’ve considered deleting the blog but people come for the pictures—local culture good and bad, cars, animals, birds, insects, plants—I see my work all over Pinterest. Organizations write me for permission to use photos or drawings in a design or on a catalog cover. Maybe this is the way I’ll live on. And all of those spirited, expressive comments! Delete would be a hard button to press. And even if I did, you’d be suspicious of a person not on Facebook.

I don’t expect a fat paycheck and I’m not after anyone’s job. I don’t gossip or discuss my personal business at work. I’m appreciative of being given a chance to be a productive employee and for that you get my enthusiasm and loyalty. I’m a fast learner if you’re clear about what you want. But you’ll never know any of this because I’m screened out as a ‘mismatch’ from the start.

Although age discrimination is illegal, you are young enough to be my daughter and this makes you uncomfortable. You may not be allowed to outright ask my date of birth (many applications do though), but it will be clear from my resume I’m not a kid. You personally vilify the idea of discrimination in any form, and you have strong beliefs about the importance of equality for everyone, but the grim statistics pointing to the masses of unemployed people over 50 prove how selective your concept of discrimination really is. Most of us are completely disillusioned—for all the wasted human resources of our generation—and for you, too. When you’re our age, provided we still have anything resembling an economy, you’ll face the same problems (sorry, challenges).

Anyway, I’m looking for a job. Someplace with no HR department, obviously. A small or medium business where you talk to the owner or manager—you know, real people. I’m flexible and have excellent references. I’m self-employed, which means being energetically resourceful in several fields, but the demands of the physical work I do are wearing down overused body parts. So, can I help you without losing my identity?

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43 responses to “Young-at-Heart Human Resource Seeks Work

  1. Excellent, excellent post. I hope someone/company embraces you enthusiastically. You would be a treasure for and an asset to any organization. Wish you lots of luck in finding a match.

  2. Don’t get discouraged. There’s someone out there who wants you, they just don’t know it yet.

  3. Pretty much the only jobs that I have had were with big publicly traded corporations with an HR department. It’s always the same questions. I think a lot of them are geared towards figuring out how well you are going to fit in and if you are crazy or not. They sometimes ask questions like, ‘would you steal from the company?’

    The sad thing is that I have lied on every resume to get these jobs that I never really wanted and ended up hating. The similarities of attaining employment at these types of places and what can end up happening after is too similar to what a guy would do to court a girl. Lie and withhold the truth and then coast. If my morals towards people were the same as my morals towards big companies, there would have been more women in my life…haha

    It’s obvious that discrimination exists in hiring practices even though they say it doesn’t. Some groups benefit from it and some don’t and depends on the situation at that time. Sometimes there’s just way too many gay people getting hired at once for it to be a coincidence. Ya, I always hated how you’re not legally obligated to state your age but by not doing so it makes me think that it will work against you (“oh, you’re one of those types eh. Well, we’ll just put your application in this pile.”) And you’re right, you can always get a good idea on a person’s age from their application.

    Maybe I’ll apply for jobs and go for interviews just for fun and totally blow the interview on purpose.

    • According to the millions of ‘how to find a job’ websites, that’s right they all ask the same questions. It’s pretty goofy because the answers are right there, just memorize and adjust them to your experience. One to expect is ‘what is your greatest weakness?’ Do they really think you’re going to tell them? No, you’re going to look at online answers and pick the one that least makes you look like a loser. And of course you overcame whatever this weakness was. And it’s always something like ‘I’m too detail-oriented,’ like wow I really had to put a lot of effort in to be a little sloppier but I triumphed. They give you all the same old tired adjectives to use on your resume, and I’ve read resumes where people try to stuff all of them in and it sounds ridiculous. Some of these Linkedin profiles sound like a business word glossary. Wouldn’t an unscripted, honest conversation be much more telling of who you are?

      Haha lie and coast—well I guess a young person can get away with that—but older people never actually make it to an interview. And our lies are more about leaving job experience off the resume so we don’t appear to be overqualified or working as long as we really have been. Ya leaving any boxes blank will just make it worse for you.

      You’re such a good boy for not lyin’ to the ladies…

      • Ah yes, ‘what is your greatest weakness?’ My answer was always, ‘I know I have one. I just can’t think of it right now.’ I guess it was good enough.

        The best jobs seem to be the ones that you get by referral. It’s the only way a person can get a job that they wouldn’t usually be able to get by the regular applying route. I think the privately owned smaller companies have much more advantages. The owners don’t have to follow all those corporate polices. More flexibility and possibilities. Jobs like mine are for people who are concerned with security and benefits. I wish I figured that out a decade ago.

        I know a couple HR girls. They are pretty fake even outside of work. They are relentless.

        • The best answer I came up with to “What is your greatest weakness” was “If anything, I’m too attentive to detail.”

          A British cartoon strip, ‘Alex’ (a sort of Dilbert but set in a City of London merchant bank), lampooned this. When faced with the weakness question, the candidate said “Frankly, I don’t believe I have any weaknesses.”

          To which the answer was “Good. You’d be surprised how often too much false modesty mars the profile of a chap of your calibre.” (A particularly British answer, I suspect.)

          • Yes I think that’s the most suggested ‘weakness.’ What else are you going to say? I’m apathetic, get distracted by video games, dislike soap and water, or are almost always late? That comic strip is a good line. What a crap shoot it all is.

  4. You’re hired. Now, let me find a position for you.

    Seriously — you’re exactly what this country and a gazillion companies need, were they smart enough to know it. Every day, I give thanks that I stumbled into owning my own business. I’ve made it this far, and I hope to make it to the end. As long as I can keep working, I’m fine. If I come to the point where I’m not longer physically able to work — well, I’ll worry about that when it comes.

    The great advantages of having my business are things I”ve never experienced: no HR department, no need for sensitivity training, no bureaucratic wrangling. Along with that, I get to go barefoot when I want, I can stop for an hour and take a nap if I feel the need, and I get to judge the quality of my own work. All good.

    Anyhow – it’s great to see a post from you. I can guarantee one thing. I am not young enough to be your daughter!

    • Thanks Linda. And those are the same reasons I remain self-employed…and you have a great attitude about the future! I love the physical labor parts of my work but there is a problem—the repetitive motions required of my right hand and arm are causing inflammation that doesn’t go away, and it hurts. It’s been ten years now, eight in AZ where we have very hard water that builds up mineral deposits anywhere that water runs, and this x-treme scrubbing is taking its toll on me. And of course I feel like I have to get it all off instead of saying ‘sorry, I can’t get that off.’ We sign our names to these jobs! How is your working hand, arm and shoulder doing? Do you ever have any pain?

      • Funny you should ask. I’ve never had a bit, until three weeks ago.

        I’ve had slightly enlarged knuckles and so on from time to time, but no pain. Then, my left hand suddenly became A Problem. The worst was the large joint at the bottom of my thumb, but two other joints became inflamed, swollen, and painful. I didn’t have a clue, until a friend pointed out that age and repetitive motion probably had caught up with me, and I had arthritis.

        Well. It was so painful I hardly could work. It woke me up at night. After three days of that, I stopped by the pharmacy and asked what magic pill I needed. Ibuprofen was the answer.

        BUT! I also remembered hearing an aunt talk about cherry juice for arthritis. I went online and read up. Sure enough, the info is everywhere. The basic recommendation was the same everywhere – from a half-cup to a cup of tart or dark cherry juice, morning and night. I started with a cup.

        In three days, the pain was gone. Now, I only have swelling in that thumb joint, but it’s down considerably. I’m amazed. In the process of sharing my miracle with others, I’ve found it’s good for gout, too, and some of my friends have been happily slurping it for years.

        One other thing – all the sites mentioned “no sugar added” was important when choosing a juice, because sugar is an inflammatory. What? Who knew that? I’m a huge sugar consumer. So, now that I’ve gotten myself pain-free, I’m going to start cutting back on the sugar, too, and see if things improve more over time.

        One thing’s for sure. A daily dose of cherry juice is pretty much side-effect free!

        (Good gosh. I sound like an evangelist for cherry juice. Now that you’ve heard my testimony, ma’am,would you like a pamphlet?)

        • THANK YOU for this information—I did read about it. I can’t believe how fast it worked for you, so preach it sister! The stuff they sell online is pretty expensive and I didn’t see it at Safeway today but I might not have looked in the right place. I’ll find it though—I’m sick to death of ibuprofen!

  5. Damn. I was intending to post on that most offensive of terms, ‘Human Resources’. (I’ve often wondered what happened to ‘Personnel’?)

    AND I was intending a post on the use of apostrophes. Theres an in’sidiou’s plot afoot to do away with the bugger’s. Buggers’. Whatever … kidz coppy wot thay c, and it plaise marry hel wiv the langwidge butt ‘surely that’ snot a problum s’o long as it kan b under’stood?

    Hoap U get uR job …

    • I wondered the same thing, Personnel is such a nicer word, although that wouldn’t change how these departments are run now. I read that a lot of them even use software dumps new applicants immediately because of some keystroke it finds. Love that human touch. Please write about it so I can kvetch some more!

      I agree grammar’s on its way out. Everything I read by noted word folks says we shouldn’t push it on people who don’t want it. I think it’s a PC thing. It’s got to backfire at some point though—it’s hard enough to learn English, a free-for-all approach won’t make it easier. Please write about it!

      • Thanks. I took some snaps the other day, I may still have them—as a starting point. (We could have real fun with this if it weren’t so painful …)

  6. I was once asked in a job interview, “If you could be an animal, what type of animal would you be, and why?”

    This was an IT position. She asked me nothing about IT. Not one question. It was all this corporate psychobabble b.s. But this question was the final one, the icing on the cake. I remember looking at her and smiling like, “REALLY?” And thinking to myself, “I don’t want to work for these people.”

    I know she could see how badly I wanted to laugh. She was acting the role, saying all the canned things. I wasn’t. It was truly awkward.

    It’s the honest people I seek out in life, not the ones playing a role. I’d give anything to go back and see that woman break character. Drop the rigid expression. Be like, “Yeah, I know. Dumb question, huh? I’m forced to ask this crap. You don’t want to work here.” And show me the door. But no. She buys it, plays the game every day. She’s a very high executive now. Six figures. BMW. All of it. I wonder what kind of animal she’d be.

    Your post says a lot about how we relate to each other, what type of behavior is becoming “normal.” I often think, “Have people always been like this?” Maybe they didn’t have corporate buzzwords like “group-think” and “synergy” in the 1800s but I’m sure they had something equivalent for their time. People aren’t *really* turning into robots, are they?

    • Haha remember when Barbara Walters took a beat-down for asking Katherine Hepburn what kind of tree she was? Did she start this idiot trend, because apparently this is a common question by HR clones. How do they keep a straight face—did you name an animal? Whatever animal you pick would be the wrong one. How about ‘I want to be a virus, just like you.’ They do seem to enjoy humiliating people and that takes an aggressive, humorless personality, so they may not be playing a role. Well maybe not humorless, they’re laughing at the applicants. Figures she made it to the top. How depressing.

      I think there have always been government or monarchy or tribal toadies who had a little power and took pleasure in making people squirm. But what we have now has really exploded with technology and overpopulation and it’s all so cut-throat. And yes, I do think we’re all expected to think and act in a certain way.

      • I honestly don’t remember what animal I picked. I do remember my tone of voice, and how I knew I’d failed the interview due to that tinge of snark. Do they want you to be honest, or do they want you to answer what they want to hear? It’s a lose-lose. Honesty gets you kicked out the door with no callback, answering what they want to hear means you’ve sold your soul.

        Most people just want to get a job and do it and clock out and go home. I don’t know how mind games ever became a part of that.

        • I’ll bet you can find exactly what they want to hear online but I refuse to research it on the grounds it’s insane. Yeah, how do we prepare kids for mind games? Are there classes? Now I just want to go work at a feed store.

  7. Are you planning on making wreaths this year ? If so, please let us know…
    I am with you on the job interview status…. And then try training the applicants that are chosen based on those questions and the answers ….. Life goes on but in the end a steady work ethic is in the genes ….AND THAT IS FOR SURE!!!!

    • Right—like how do those questions give any insight into character. They keep talking about this great ‘talent shortage’ in the US but a lot of people aren’t buying it, they’re blaming HRs for hiring the wrong people or NO people, and the companies for their unwillingness to train.

      No, I’m not making any wreaths but thanks for asking!

  8. Well, up until a few months ago, I would have merely nodded and agreed with everything you’ve said. because it’s all true. And yet…

    I tried self-employment, and whilst I had a great time, got a book published, did exhibitions, had some articles and so on, the artistic success wasn’t backed by the ability to monetise my skills. So I started doing IT contracting – but I found it difficult to move seamlessly from job to job, and when I finished a contract in September 2013 (a four-week contract I ended up on for six months, so I must’ve been doing something right!), I didn’t get another one at all.

    I had no job interviews at all between September and Xmas. Then, after Xmas, some interview offers began to materialise. Eventually, I was getting an interview roughly once a fortnight – but no job offers. But finally, in June of this year, I had an interview where it seemed I ticked all the boxes that mattered, and was offered the job. At age 56.

    There is a downside; the money is no better than what I was on when I left the UK Civil Service in 2010. And I had to cast my net pretty wide geographically to get work. (I know that 25 miles – or the 35 miles I was travelling to the last contract – seems like very little to you guys in the US, but by our standards that’s a long way.) In fact, I have just moved house, partly to downsize so that my money goes further, but also because the 25 miles’ commute for this new job was harder than the 35 miles I did to the contract job, mainly because there’s a big town on the route that can’t be by-passed and which is a major traffic bottleneck.

    The upshot of all this is that the company I’m working for has recruited two people to the roles they were looking for, and my job seems to be down to my having complimentary skills to my colleague. But it’s a rather traditional firm with a fairly minimal HR footprint. l Make of that what you will.

    • Self-employment in my case depends on how much you can hustle, and since I have to cut back there’s not much money coming in for me either. Actually there never really was, because every single job I do whether it’s freelancing or cleaning takes me longer than what I’m being paid for. That’s just the way it is, I accept it, I guess.

      Are HR departments in GB similar to those here, with the unpleasant questions and cold stares? It’s wonderful that you found employment, I do read of your ongoing efforts. No, 25 or 35 miles to a job is a long way for anyone, gas, time, etc. New Yorkers and others who live outside the big cities where it takes and hour or two to get to work use public transportation and they seem to adjust and use the time for reading, etc. There’s nothing like that in most other places though. Congratulations on the job, really, it may not be perfect but it’s still to be celebrated!

      • HR departments in the UK can be equally unpleasant, but in different ways. You either get pointless and weird questions, or you get (and I’m afraid I’m going to be ageist here) some 12-year-old telling you that you don’t have the right experience or enough experience. (I had that: apparently, 15 years of doing the job wasn’t “enough”).

        Quite often, what is happening is that HR departments are interpreting job descriptions from their internal clients very precisely, and either don’t have the knowledge to step outside the strict requirements of the job, or don’t feel that they have the enough empowerment to suggest to their internal client that they should perhaps look at someone from slightly left-field.

        And if you think HR departments are bad, there are often instances where getting the person looking to fill the vacancy to run the recruitment exercise is worse.

        • I think they have plenty of empowerment, just not enough communication…between themselves and managers who may give them a list of requirements but don’t expect perfection, and between HR and jobseekers who probably know more about the job than the HR person. They are overly selective and maybe companies just really don’t want to hire anybody? I mean, who do they answer to?

  9. I really liked the honesty in this piece, although it is absolutely true that all your writing is freshly honest. In general it gets harder to get a job as we age. Especially if one is over 60. I wonder if those that might hire us do not because they figure we won’t be around that long? Or if we might think we know more than them? Or is they just want someone younger, more pleasant to look at? I wonder if they might not hire us because we like to give detailed answers because the information might be helpful? The world seems lost in useless information that lacks substance. Wouldn’t it be odd to just once answer a question with a response that has no real meaning? The irony of it all.

    I’d hire you. Simply for you honesty and work ethic. If someone wants result those are certainly two of the best qualities, wouldn’t you agree?

    Good luck with this. I feel certain that you’ll land feet up in exactly the right spot. Why? Just because.

    • Thanks Bill. We don’t get hired for all those reasons, but I think they think we don’t know more than them and on some technologies that may be true—but how hard are they to learn when the work is front of you. And yes on third reason, they’re just uncomfortable with anyone who looks 30 years older and whose life experiences are different from theirs. I can’t do all this social media stuff—though a lot of older people have embraced it—I just can’t, I’d be a phony, just another car horn blowing in a traffic jam.

      It must be hard for a company to know who to trust for honesty and work ethic, especially with these dumb questions they ask. Look at all the people who get fired for saying defamatory things about their company on social media, or posting pictures of what they did on their ‘sick day.’ I’d say in general older workers have a lot more wisdom.

  10. I am going shopping for Cherry juice tomorrow !
    I have an autoimmune disease of the liver… they think triggered either by a virus or exposure to strong chemicals. Both of which I have had. I did cleaning for 8 years and paid no attention to the products I used. I also contracted a viral chest type pneumonia and that I feel was what finally triggered everything.
    Debra, I was thinking about you last week…. and here you are !

    • Hey you guys! I just completely searched Safeway and they don’t have it. I’ll get it in Sierra Vista when I go next week. Would other antioxidant juices help you? I work with chemicals too, and what you have doesn’t sound good.

      I’ve written you a couple emails in the past year but I don’t think you’re receiving them—I sent one yesterday with a couple of pics attached that I know will interest you. Centurylink is faster than cableone but I don’t trust their email system—some customers don’t get my emails and I get no spam at all which is very suspicious. Would you check your spam folder (stargeezer) and have a look? Great to hear from you and thanks for the shout-out!

  11. Aye, aye, Cowgirl. The script we’re all forced to live by needs to be rewritten. And in this ‘new’ script, not a teacher would be hired until they have forty years of pain and suffering, seeing and experiencing life under their belts. And in this script, you would be hired as Overseer of these fledgling 40-somethings till they’ve matured and ripened to perfection, say age 50 or there a bouts. And if they get to whining an complaining, that they can’t take the ‘pressure’. You’ll be there to remind them ‘suicide is not an option’, so man up and take it.

    Good shtufffs, take care, you.

    • Hi Hudson, nope, don’t want to be anyone’s overseer unless they have four legs. Unfortunately after age 40 in the US you’re considered past your sell-by date—just the time you’re starting to act like a grown up (or ripening to perfection).

  12. A sad commentary wherever one lives. Being relegated to fossil is hard to swallow.

    I do have a Facebook account, though I don’t accept friends. I just created it to complain on my Web Server’s FB page. Turns out, the only way to get attention and to get a problem fixed. Emails and service request seemed to full on young deaf ears.

  13. All I have to say is Good Luck!
    Well, I’ll say some more.
    If, you want to live where you are now that just makes finding a job even more difficult. I would say that 60% or maybe more of the jobs in that area are with some governmental agency or is funded by some government – federal state or local.
    As a ‘mature’ white male I was virtually unemployable. If I made it to the interview stage it was only because the HR department wanted to ‘balance’ their equal opportunity employment recruiting statistics. i heard the overqualified reason more than once.
    Human Resource departments are like banks. A bank will not loan you money unless you can prove you don’t need it. A Human Resources department will not hire you unless you can prove you don’t need or want a job.
    My best opportunities came through temporary hire agencies. I was a temp but worked full time for a number of years until they placed me in a temp to perm position.

    • It’s not that I want to live here anymore, I’m kind of trapped here. You wouldn’t believe how many people say the same thing. Foreclosed houses splattered all over my street, houses on three sides of me empty. Yup there a lot of government/military jobs but they often say things like ‘secret clearance required,’ and the jobs are very specialized. Also many jobs require bilingual, and I’m not comfortable claiming that. I hope to someday but not yet.

      That’s also true about not hiring the people who most need the jobs. I’ve read so much lately about this subject and HR people say they can sense desperation and they hate that. That’s because people who have been looking for a couple years, have taken classes, have done all the things you’re supposed to do to keep up, sometimes cannot hide their frustration with yet one more HR question unrelated to the job.

      Because I’ve been researching this, ads directed at HR depts. for ‘talent acquisition software’ to help them with ‘pre-hire solutions’ are now popping up on my screen. Ugh.

  14. Wish I were still the HR Director – I retired 18 months ago – I’d hire you. I might have to coach you through the “talent management maze of casual questions designed to establish ‘fit’ “, but then you could immediately start work on taking over my job 🙂 Good luck. I hope somebody out there is smart and brave enough to give you a shot!

  15. all the best with the job hunting, Debra. Keep us posted 🙂

  16. HR has always been a misnomer. They are there to keep people out—or at least make hiring so difficult as to make potential employees throw up their hands, and then to make life for those who are on board as annoying as possible. Catbert is not just a figment of Scott Adam’s imagination.

    • Hi Expat, I know the problems you’ve been facing over the years to find work in your field as well. And all those folks, like you and me and a million others, who take unpleasant jobs because we have to—is a sorry excuse for ’employment.’ IMO the blame can be spread along a distinct hierarchy from the govt. on down, and coming face to face with a person who isn’t on your side is humiliating.

      And I really hate the word ‘rightsizing.’

  17. “Rightsizing” Sounds like something someone thought of after one scotch too many.

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