Dear J.T. & Dale: A company I applied to online had me submit a résumé and application. Afterward, an email came stating that I should follow a link and fill out questions. The link states, “Company participates in the federal government Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program.” They wanted my birth date, Social Security number and other information. I, of course, did not fill it out, but it is odd! It even asks if you have used unemployment. What? — Jenna
J.T.: Actually, this is a real thing, and it’s run through the Department of Labor. Here’s what the DOL website says: “The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers who invest in American job seekers who have consistently faced barriers to employment. Employers may meet their business needs and claim a tax credit if they hire an individual who is in a WOTC targeted group.”
DALE: The target groups include those who’ve been receiving government assistance, like unemployment or SNAP (food stamps), as well as residents of certain communities, some veterans and ex-felons.
J.T.: The website goes on to say, “Employers must apply for and receive a certification verifying the new hire is a member of a targeted group before they can claim the tax credit.” So, the company you applied to is looking to save money, and the people who filled in the information are probably being considered first. You may want to go back in and add the info, if you think you may qualify. Otherwise, leave it blank.
DALE: This type of hiring is not terribly common yet, perhaps because companies are required to do a fair amount of reporting. However, with companies getting tax credits of $2,400-$9,600 per qualified employee, and with suppliers like ADP providing an automated system companies can plug into their hiring processes, we’re likely to see more of it.
Dear J.T. & Dale: At 62, I have a good CV and great work experience. But, being in IT, I believe my age is a blockage. IT is a youth game, and I am getting weird questions about my age during peer interviews. It’s starting to shake my confidence. How can I break through? — Evan
J.T: I can appreciate your concern; it’s certainly valid. If they are asking about age, I’d politely ask back, “It seems like you might be concerned about age impacting my ability to do the job. Is there something I can share to reassure you that I can definitely do this?” If you say that in a kind and positive way, it will politely bring to their attention that they are discriminating. Now, if that doesn’t feel comfortable, then you have to offer up examples of how you are up-to-date on the latest technology and techniques. That way, you are going on the offensive and trying to help them not see your age as a negative.
DALE: Well, it is seen as a negative, and like so many negatives, it’s best to bring it up and deal with it. But even before we get to that, I want you to make sure you’re not looking or acting like you’re past your freshness date. Get some advice on your appearance and shell out for new clothes. And make sure you come across as energetic. For one thing, never let your new clothes touch the back of the chair — lean forward and engage your curiosity. Now, as for bringing up the issue, don’t wait to be asked, just say, “I know some people are worried about age, and I want you to know that I love working around younger people — that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed in IT. I love the work and the people. And, I stay up-to-date.” Then, you talk about how you keep current and ask the interviewers how they stay current. Asking is respecting, and that’s the biggest question about us older guys — will you be a pontificating blowhard, or will you be a curious, continual learner? You must show them which you are.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.