A few years back I had a very strange interview. There were many details that made it so, but the most telling was the lack of respect the interviewers had for me. I was applying for a job I previously held, a job I knew how to do, a job already listed on my resume. Still, I was asked repeatedly, “How would you feel working for someone who had your job?” Well, I would be fine as long as he was skilled and I could learn from him. And indeed, he seemed very smart. 

But the interviews all had something in common: they were conducted by much younger employees, and they were disrespectful both in their thinly veiled attitudes and their unwillingness to hide them. I was asked about social media with smirking assurances my Facebook account included only family member followers. They insisted that “breaking news has changed since you were last in a newsroom.” (Really? We no longer drop everything to cover it?) HR kept circling around my “experience” and whether I might feel “overqualified” for the job. Overqualified is not a compliment. I don’t apply to jobs that don’t challenge me. I got the hint.

Suddenly I’m too old. Sometime in the calendar of years, I’ve crossed over from “young and energetic” to “old guy who probably wants my job and who will tell me how to do mine.” I was told “We’re going in a different direction.” Guess which direction.

I don’t bring up this anecdote to grouse. OK, maybe just a little. I mean, I’m only partially into my 50s. I’ve given talks to companies about how to use Twitter, I follow my kid’s band on YouTube, I have a TikTok account. I’ve witnessed intergenerational conversations that span the mommy wars to the great Gen Z/millenial rift over jean and hair styles. Today, I have great job tutoring young writers of the future where it would be impossible to ignore current trends and interests. I’m not exactly pulling up to these interviews with a Filofax and an inability to turn off the flashlight on my iPhone.

I bring it up because it’s my generation’s turn to experience ageism, and it’s a huge mistake. I came across a post on LinkedIn that summarized the situation beautifully. It is by Brigette Hyacinth, author of “Leading the Workforce of the Future”:

I HIRED a person over 50. You can’t imagine the resistance I had to overcome. The HR manager was not impressed. She said he “won’t fit into our culture,” “he is overqualified.” etc. I had to put my foot down to get him hired.

Everyone is looking for that 18 year old with 20 years experience.

He was one of the best hires I ever made. He made a huge difference for the company. You can’t Google Experience.

“You can’t Google ‘experience.’” Isn’t that perfect?

Companies want to look young and hip, but they also want experience and the ideas that go with it. Generation X is experienced, hard-working, and… totally discriminated against. We’re the ones who helped developed the modern web and the mobile web, but we’re put in the same bucket as buggy-whip salesmen. We have 15 to 20 good work years left. And unlike that 25 year-old in their first job, we’re going to stick around because we appreciate the power of loyalty. We’re not looking at the job as the first of the next dozen companies that will employ us. 

So follow Brigette’s lead. Hire someone over 50. If (when) your company fights you– fight back. Ask exactly how someone can be “overqualified” for a job they might already know how to do well? If I go to the supermarket and want a job bagging groceries, they will hire me on the spot. I am overqualified for this job, save for a bad back. So how can someone be overqualified for a job in the same field they’ve worked in for 25 years? Let’s lose the “O” word from our lexicon. Ageism is wrong and it’s also illegal. The trouble is, it’s really hard to prove. All I can do is encourage employers to look at veteran employees as an asset, not a liability.

Experience matters.


GOD’S EDITOR, JERRY… by Steve Safran

Lord Almighty,

We are in receipt of the next draft of your exciting new work. We see this going multi-platform, and are already working on the movie rights. Picture Charlton Heston as Moses! For that matter, create Charlton Heston! You are God, after all.

As your editor, it’s my job to help you write the best Old Testament you can write. I should tell you I’m Jewish, so I’m a HUGE fan. I love what you’ve done with the place. Not particularly crazy about all the Egyptians walking around, but I’m sure you have your Reasons. I’m here for you.

With that in mind, some notes about the Testament:

GENESIS: Wow. Boffo! Had no idea you created everything in six days. I can’t even get the copy machine guy to come in a week. But, question: You’re GOD. Why did you need to rest? Flesh out that part. Let us know what it’s like to feel tired as a deity. How does God chill? I’m picturing Heaven’s largest Slurpee machine. It has crossover appeal.

ADAM AND EVE: This one’s a little tougher. I buy the Garden of Eden, and I suppose we had to start with two people at some point. But why kick them out for eating fruit? Shouldn’t we be encouraging healthy eating habits? Maybe give that a rethink. Just a thought: Kick them out for eating at Olive Garden.

THE BIG FLOOD: This has the potential to be a spinoff. I see this as a 10-part Netflix special. Noah is the first action hero! But– two of every creature? Not on this budget. How about two of every cute creature? Or just two creatures that are magical and can turn into other creatures? I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, just pitching…

EXODUS: I’m starting to sense a pattern about your attitude toward the Jews, and I have to say… what gives? For a Chosen People, you’re making some brutal choices. As God, your brand should be marketable. Suffering is love? I don’t see that testing well. Still, Moses is main character material. Totally believable and relatable to today’s pious and non-pious alike. Who doesn’t want to part water with a staff? I can’t even get a plumber on the weekends.

LEVITICUS: Wow. A lot to unpack here. So … many … rules. Good thing you had Moses to remind them, or nobody could keep them straight. And I don’t think word of mouth will “play telephone” with Your words at all. Still– a lot of good advice here about cleanliness. You might want to add in something about masks. In a few thousand years, people are gonna get all huffy about them, so Your Word might help clarify. Also, we’re confused by this part: “You shall not lie with a male as a woman.” Sounds off brand. Did a disgruntled intern slip that in? Also, your idea for a Day of Atonement is outstanding and will lead to many bagel dinners.

NUMBERS: Oddly few numbers here, for a book called “Numbers,” but we’ll take it. It’s the first title the audience will understand. Quick anecdote: I’m reading “Numbers,” and I’m thinking “Good thing the Jews have escaped the Egyptians. Should be smooth sailing now.” And then WHAM– 15,000 Jews slain for bitching about Moses and Aaron. I did NOT see that coming. (Although now that I think about it, maybe “NUMBERS” was the foreshadowing. Nice one, Holy of Holies.) Heavy story turn. I can see the scene going black right there, like a “Sopranos” ending. Which You will also develop. 

DEUTERONOMY: A bit of a mouthful, that title. Why not just “DUDE?” Give that the ol’ Godthink. This is a good wrap-up: forty years of wandering, the laws of Moses, the teachings– the whole shebang. The Jews make it to Canaan… roll credits, amirite? NO. Moses snuffs it before entering The Promised Land? I know what you’re going for, but we’re trying to sell books here. What if… and just stick with me for a second… what if Moses doesn’t die, but instead sets up a Canaan deli?

Overall, a very promising draft, O Mighty One. And I appreciated your response to my last set of notes. The wife looks just fine as a pillar of salt.

– Jerry.

Jerry better hope these editorial notes are received well…