SocraticGadfly: Another job, another age discrimination?

August 14, 2017

Another job, another age discrimination?

A marketing communications job at a state university, where the job description doesn't even include the phrase "social media," decided to hire another person after its interviews of me and other finalist candidates.

Not going to name the place,  as, unlike the now-being-named Bastrop Advertiser newspaper, who I blogged about before with the use or misuse of "social media" questions as what I believe was a screening tool, I don't know who this state university hired. (I know who Bastrop hired and I knew him personally and it was no surprise he left after less than a year.)

But its initials are SFA State University and it's in Deep East Texas.

Anyway, in case I need to, I bookmarked the particular job. And, I'm going to copy/paste the details.
General Description:
This is a professional position responsible for performing editorial work in support of the operation of the Office of University Marketing Communications. Responsible for contributing to the development, publication and dissemination of department-produced communications; assisting with the development and implementation of communications programs; assisting with special projects as assigned; and ensuring the quality, consistency, and conformity of departmental public relations, branding and publication functions. Works under general supervision, with moderate latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgment. This is a security-sensitive position. Reports to the assistant director, University Marketing Communications (Creative & Editorial Services). 
 Essential Job Functions:
1. Researches, writes, and edits department-produced communications for use in print and electronic publications, branding efforts and communications programs.
2. Obtains, prepares, and disseminates informational and promotional items in the form of news stories, feature articles, or marketing collateral internally to the university community and/or externally to local and state media and the general public.
3. Confirms facts for releases, features, and marketing copy, adhering to journalistic standards for fact-finding, research and style.
4. Consults with university faculty and staff to obtain information for publication and/or to respond to media inquiries.
5. Contributes to the print and electronic publication of department-produced communications.
6. Assists with the development and implementation of communications programs that describe and promote the university by collaborating with departmental staff and/or other departments and contributing to decisions on content and style.
7. Upholds established editorial standards of official university communications.
8. Monitors comprehensive project schedule to ensure timely project completion.
9. Ensures the quality, consistency, and conformity of departmental public relations, branding and publication functions.
10. Provides periodic project status reports to supervisor.
11. Stays abreast of developments and emerging trends related to areas of specialization.
Non-Essential Job Functions:
1. Assists with copywriting as assigned.
2. Assists with photography and videography shoots as needed.
3. Assists with special projects as assigned.
4. May edit publications produced by other departments.
5. Performs other related duties as assigned. 
 Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
1. Knowledge of, or the ability to learn, university policies and procedures.
2. Knowledge of professional standards related to areas of specialization, including journalism principles, the concepts used in writing news and marketing copy, Associated Press style, desktop publishing and printing.
3. Skill in using computer applications including spreadsheet, database, publication, and word processing software.
4. Skill in completing assignments accurately and with attention to detail.
5. Skill in editing documents for correct grammar.
6. Ability to analyze, organize and prioritize work while meeting multiple deadlines.
7. Ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written form.
8. Ability to establish and maintain a good rapport with university faculty and staff, students and the general public.
9. Ability to think conceptually and creatively.
10. Ability to exercise sound judgment in making critical decisions.
11. Ability to problem-solve in a variety of situations.
12. Ability to maintain currency of knowledge and skills, including adapting to changes in technology and software related to areas of specialization. 
Completion of at least two years of college coursework or an Associate's degree in English, communications, journalism, marketing or a related field is required. Bachelor's degree is preferred. 
 Experience and Training:
Two years of related experience is required. Experience in news writing, marketing, advertising, public relations, communications or a related field is required. Graphic design experience is preferred. 
By the job description, on both education and experience, I was overqualified, if anything. Therefore, the idea that they hired somebody even better qualified, for a job that, at its base-level pay, pays less than the journalism job I now have?


I really doubt that, per the university's form "no" letter, they got somebody better qualified. (I'm doubly sure of that now; re-reading the job title, I realize I looked one line too high on the university's pay scale. At their pay range, I am VERY sure they didn't have somebody better qualified. Somebody cheaper, as part of being younger? Possible. Very possible. Or else, they hired somebody either far more desperate than me, or somebody who "got creative" on a resume and / or in the interview process.)

On the social media issue, you'll note that the phrase "social media" isn't even mentioned. And, other than details of how to apply, and information that would more specifically identify who the university is, that is the WHOLE job description.

I was asked at least three "social media" questions by one of the four interviewers. (They had split up questions; I don't know if they brainstormed question lists together or separately.)

I was asked in detail about my skill in personal and professional use of not only Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram and Snapchat.

First, WHY was I asked any of these questions?

Second, WHAT THE FUCK is Snapchat used for as a professional social media tool? Seriously?

At best, it could be seen as attempting to be hip to millennials making college decisions. However, they might at least feel patronized by such, and besides, that's really the business of recruitment and admissions anyway. But, to reach out to alumni? Professional organizations interested in professors and various colleges of a university? No.

Beyond all THAT, when folks on Twitter like the Democratic Party and Ted Cruz use the Snapchat icon as their Twitter icons, you know it's about to lose its "millennial cool."

Third, the supervisor for the position, when I queried by email later, having gotten the impression from interview questions that I was suddenly interviewing for a social media editor's position, told me that the job only involved a one per day to each of the social media accounts. (I still have that, and other, emails saved.)

Given all that, and that the person asking the social media questions was under 35, if not under 30 ...

Age discrimination is the only realistic conclusion I see. 

Even if it wasn't consciously done. (Sorry, Dan Kaufman, but this is why things like Project Implicit not only reveal a fair amount of truth, but are necessary.) Even if wanting somebody cheaper cuz younger.

Also, if this wasn't conscious age discrimination, it was godawful interviewing to ask somebody questions that aren't even on a job description.


I will be charitable enough to say they let me interview by Skype (OTOH, they might have pushed the "social media" issue even harder in person), and complete timed writing and editorial tests on an honor system.

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