You call it "Culture Fit", I Call it Age Discrimination

Bob Rollins
Owner - 6 Second Hire
As a recruiter/executive advocate and more importantly as a veteran sales guy, I am just about fed up with companies that are more interested in "culture" than they are in sales. I'm not talking about core values or the overall culture of a company, but more of a hiring decision made solely on age. I could care less about being politically correct or being controversial with this blog because this needs to be said. This is not about age discrimination laws being broken, but how stupid and blind some companies have become when hiring.

A cultural fit is defined as the likelihood that an employee will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviors that make up an organization. I agree that you should hire someone that fits with your core values, but that's as far as I go. I do not agree with companies that want to hire a herd of people just like themselves. What are we a fraternity? By the way, when did core values start including ping pong and foosball? When did it become ok to hire a salesperson because they had a snappy answer to the question "What kind of animal would you be and why?" (actual Apple interview question) I would answer Godzilla because I want to flame you in the face for such a stupid question!

Before I continue with my rant, let me ask you a question. If you had to have brain surgery, would you select a surgeon based on their experience and qualifications or based on how well they can play golf on Wednesday? Hiring top producing salespeople should be selected the same way. If you don't generate sales for your business then someone will be buying your ping pong and foosball tables on EBay.

Where is the experience, mentorship, and leading by example if everyone is the same age and thinks alike? Here is a little story about a hot shot 18 year old kid, just out of high school at his first duty station in the Coast Guard. We had racquetball courts on the base and I went in one day to play but had to wait on this "old man" that had the court reserved. He moved so slow and barely hit the ball. He saw me waiting and invited me in. I thought, "Easy butt kicking." He thought, "Let's have some fun with this kid." Long story short and after not scoring a single point in 3 games, he looked at me and said, "Now kid; do you want to learn how to play?" He taught me more about the game of racquetball than anyone my age or of my "culture". Hire for mentorship.

Do you not hire more seasoned employees because you are afraid of them taking another job as soon as they get an offer for more money or because they only have a few good years left? Newsflash, a forty-five year old still has twenty years in the workforce. Why would you not consider someone that has held higher positions and made more money for a lesser job and lesser pay if they are honestly interested in the position and your company? Don't pre judge them but rather ask them the direct question of why they are interested. You might be surprised with the answer. Quit being afraid they will jump ship at the first opportunity to get back to where they were. Their loyalty and dedication might just surprise you.

What about hiring for "content of character"? How is age discrimination any different than the racial discrimination of the 60s? How many Jackie Robinsons is your sales team missing out on, because you aren't allowing them to play? What happened to the Dodgers after they decided to be bold, and bring him on? His enormous talent helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to six pennants and one World Series Championship. Let's start hiring for capabilities and if someone can get the job done, and not based on numbers on a birth certificate.