Tag Archives: HR

Kicking Up My Heels At 67

Six RS-25 Rocket Engines

A row of RS-25 engines, formerly SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines).

I had a great two-hour meeting with the man who will be my new manager starting Monday, and to whom I’m deeply grateful for bringing me back to the company I lived at for over two decades. My feeling about returning is probably best summed up by an old friend/colleague who still works there. She commented on a Facebook post where I told my friends I had jumped through the final HR hoop, saying “Welcome home“.

I don’t know how many of you have been lucky enough to work at a place where you can feel that way, but I have. Despite the fact I worked for three of the larger, more (shall we say) staid aerospace companies – as parent organizations; mother ships – in no way diminishes the camaraderie, affection, and deep respect I felt for so many of my colleagues.

Also, I think I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday, a few hours prior to meeting with Geoff. I was thinking about how much hierarchy and command-and-control organization are anathema to me, when I realized that I also work best when I’m involved with a team. I need to be around other people from whom I can learn and share experiences with. It’s my nature. The latter is what gives me the strength to live with the former, and I always have the opportunity to make things better. That’s what I’m ostensibly there to accomplish.

These, then, are the continuing adventures of a 67-year-old man, prematurely retired by circumstances partly beyond his control, who now returns to approximately what he had been doing nearly five years ago. I’m really looking forward to this next part of the journey. I have also discovered I have a great deal of difficulty writing about the things I’m deeply interested in – the business concepts and practices I worked on before retirement and have carefully studied since then – if I’m not involved with them. I just don’t feel I possess the gravitas sitting in my home office that I will have when I’m out there actually working with a group of people to make things happen. I think this move is going to change, if not improve, my blogging and posting habits. Time will tell.

Ooh! Ooh! Look At Me!

Too Old to Work? Too Old to be Useful?

I’m fully aware my experience is entirely anecdotal. After all, it has happened – as far as I can tell – only to me. Furthermore, I really have no way of knowing why things occurred the way they did because I haven’t been made privy to the processes and decisions that went into the “invisible” side of my experience. Therefore, you may write these words off as the irascible grousing of a bitter old man, if you like.

Nevertheless, inasmuch as I have applied for a shitload of jobs in the recent past, all of them online and most of them through LinkedIn, let me offer a little of my experience in doing so. When it comes to hiring, regardless of whatever else they may or may not do right, and regardless of the good intentions of no doubt good hearted people, HR departments suck at treating applicants as human beings.

Of all the positions I applied for, I would say no more than 20 – 25% of them acknowledged my existence in any way after I had completed my application. Of those, the majority were simple web pages that I was fed after completing their application. In total, I received no more than four email acknowledgements of my effort.

Unfortunately, my application was the last of our “engagement” and this was even true of organizations whose primary business was “Social” business. Even people I knew personally managed to avoid interviews or much, if any, communication. I don’t think it was because I have body odor, either.

One company, to which I applied for a community management position, sent me a four-page document containing around a dozen scenarios and problems they wanted me to respond to with my analysis of the situation and how I would handle it. I took the opportunity (and at least four hours) to respond to the challenge and provide what I hoped were good answers.

Despite my relatively rapid response, it wasn’t until I publicly wondered (on Twitter) why I was being ignored that I received an email (or was it a tweet?) informing me the job had been filled. Another company was kind enough just yesterday to let me know of another position that has been filled . . . months after I offered my application. I wonder why they never thought to interview me?

Here’s what I think may be happening. Despite all the rah rah talk about respect for the knowledge and experience of older workers, nobody really wants to hire someone my age. It’s pretty easy to figure out approximately how old I am simply by looking at my LinkedIn profile. If nothing else, you’ll be able to figure out I’m a Baby Boomer and, actually, with very little search proficiency, I believe one could ascertain my exact age with reasonable certainty. I have no intention of hiding it either.

I must point out, as well, I’m fully aware I have made a large portion of my life an open book by my participation in social media and through my blogging efforts. However, I also have a long track record of loyal and valuable leadership and service to an organization that played a significant role in the United States’ space program. I have also, for many years,  shared a great deal of the knowledge and experience I have gained from those efforts. There is a digital trail of my work as well.

I guess my best bet is to continue seeking clients who can use my assistance for short periods of time or for limited responsibilities. Let me say this to hiring managers, though. You really ought to figure out processes for treating your applicants with a bit more respect. I know they’re supplicants as well as applicants, but do you have to treat them like shit by essentially ignoring them throughout what is not a comfortable process to begin with? Just a thought. After all, the word “Human” is part of your process and job description, no?

What’s In A Friendship?

I remember the day I realized my Facebook friends consisted of old and new friends, colleagues, and family. My initial reaction was one of horror and despair. The horror was in realizing being myself with one set of “friends” might not be as well understood, or as welcome, by those who were in another set of my “friends.” I was paralyzed, but only momentarily.

Since then I’ve come to accept (or should I say I’ve come to realize my “friends” must accept) the diversity of relationships and viewpoints we all have. Perhaps it is partly because I am not at the beginning of my career, but much closer to the end, and – therefore – I have little need to worry about impressing an HR department. My professional experience is long and varied, running the gamut from very small (2-3 employees) businesses to large (100K plus employees), multi-national corporations. My accomplishments stand on their own and, besides, my main interest is in small business now.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish to offend anybody, but I really don’t want to worry too much about somebody not agreeing with or liking what I have to say. If you are a friend of mine, it means I find something valuable in what you have to offer. If we all thought alike, how would we learn anything . . . ever?

So, please forgive me if I offend. My political and religious views are far from mainstream, but I’ve arrived at them through many years of thought, study, and introspection. I am probably far more aware of the intricacies of mainstream thought than others are aware of those I adhere to, yet I have lived quite comfortably with them. I hope you’ll do the same for me. Can’t we all just get along? =;^D

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