Tag Archives: Testing and Evaluation

Unemployed in Your “GOLDEN” Years

It’s hell to be in your fifties and be looking for work. I know quite a few people who are over the age of 50 and have all of a sudden found themselves unemployed. You can’t help but wonder if they are discreetly weeding out older workers. A man I know had a pre-interview assessment test with one of the manufacturing plants. He is an Instrumentation & Electrical Technician. He assumed he would be given a test regarding his skill set. When he got there, the test was given on a computer. The HR person told him to sign in, where she promptly watched him type in his name, last four of his social security number, and his date of birth. The test he took was not what he was expecting. It was multiple choice and asked questions like:

On the job site, do you value safety above productivity?

All the time, most of the time, some of the time, rarely, or never

When you are on the job site, you consider safety to come first:

All the time, most of the time, some of the time, rarely, or never

The average person misses how many days of work in a 6-month period?

Zero days, 1-3 days, 4-6 days, 7-9 days, or more than 9  days

Regarding the last question, he told me, hell he didn’t know what the average person does, he’d never taken a survey before – that’s never been in the scope of his job. (I had to laugh at that!) There were quite a few weird vague questions like that. And as far as safety goes . . .  that is always number one!

Within two hours he heard back from the plant and after judging his “assessment tests,” they determined he did not have the qualifications they were looking for. He was a little shocked, especially since he knows someone in management there and they had mentioned there had been a big shake up and many people were let go, some for not knowing how to do their job. We both agreed the test they gave him was an odd way to gauge if he knew how to keep their factory running, as well as understood electrical and instrumentation basics, processes, and proper safety precautions.

My daughter and I talked about these types of personality assessment tests years ago when she was in high school, as many retail establishments use this type of screening in their initial applicant hiring process. She told me she was really good at taking them, as she knew exactly what they wanted her to say – regardless of what her real answer might be. She also usually got whatever job she applied for. One of the places she worked, she was good friends with the hiring person’s girlfriend, and he told her straight up that she was the only one he had ever seen who had made 100% on that test.

My point is, it’s a game, and many people figure it out at some point in time. I personally am not sure how this would validate anyone’s professionalism or work ethic. For older employees trying to find new jobs (especially those who haven’t had to look in awhile), this is a screening method many are unfamiliar with and the unspoken nuances aren’t as well known. If I owned a company, this is NOT a screening process I would utilize. I don’t want to hire a bunch of people who essentially just kissed my ass by telling me exactly what I want to hear . . . and being dishonest in the process.  But then again, that’s just me. Having said that, I have had to take a couple of those tests and looking back on it, don’t think I was interviewed for those positions. Which doesn’t surprise me – I’m not big on playing games.

My friend said he’ll know what to do next time, too . . .

I have some friends who work as government contractors at one of NASA’s space centers. Late last year, the contract they worked on was rebid. Their employer won the bid, but bid the work so cheaply, concessions had to be made and one of those was the lay-off of about 50 people at the beginning of this year. Every single person laid off was over the age of 40, most being in their 50-60s. People who had years of experience and had devoted their lives to the space program, regardless of the capacity. BUT they were also the oldest, many there a number of years, so they commanded higher salaries, typically more vacation time, and possibly higher medical expenses due to their age (as well as being out on disability for surgeries).

I asked my friend if this didn’t smack of ageism to them and if they were going to file a grievance with the EEOC. Of course they didn’t, as most of them were hoping to get picked up on another contract so certainly didn’t want to burn any bridges. For some of them, the space program was all they knew. And though government workers and contractors often get a bad rep, some of these people worked really hard for their money, and made significant contributions to the overall goals of the nation’s space exploration plan. Unfortunately, a high percentage of my friend’s friends are still unemployed – I ask about it pretty regularly. Nothing like using all the money you have saved for retirement to make ends meet when you are let go from your job with another 10-15 years left until you can really retire. I can just imagine how unsettling and frightening that must be!

Not sure how this growing trend is going to affect our nation’s collective knowledge base, as well as the economy, and how our country deals with its aging population.

I’m curious, what are your thoughts or experience with this . . .