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Q: Have failure rates on pre-employment assessment tests been reported? What about demographic breakdown? I think I’m getting discriminated against.

The test for a major healthcare system had a ten-minute “do as many math/deduction questions as you can.” If you have been out of school for many years and are in your 50's, might you not be a little slower? They also ask how fast you work, etc.

I think assessments can screen for lack of subservience. In healthcare that is not a safety-conscious personality. Tests do identify sex and race.

I am a 56 year-old male nurse jobless for six months. I think they’re going for the cheap, minimally experienced. Much going on in nursing that concerns me greatly. I’ve been at staff level for 32 years.

A: Three ideas. Get a tutor. If you’ve passed tests before, you can pass them again. Contact healthcare staffing firms and training departments of hospitals where you don’t want to work to find a good one.

Convert your lack of subservience into an asset. Investigate fields outside of nursing that employ nurses, beginning with risk management.

Develop a service for changing areas of nursing. Build on it.

THE LOOP

Q: I’ll be out of money in about two months. I’m in the running for two jobs, but the selection process is dragging on for months and I never seem to be in the loop until I contact the companies; so I wonder if I’m really still a live candidate for either.

I also wonder if my last two employers, Bank of America and Countrywide, scare people off by seeming tainted. I’m 58, with 30 years of management experience (38 years total) in marketing, finance and strategic planning. No MBA.

A: The market reports conflicting information about older workers finding jobs.

Keep getting back in the loop by calling employers for an update. If positions are still open, ask what more information you could give them. Find out when to check back. Consider sending a follow-up note with new information about activities related to your field.

Do your contacts consider the two companies a liability? If so, interview without sending a resume so employers get a strong impression. Then, rewrite your resume, shaped toward the employer’s objective. Pick up consulting assignments or use the temporaries to return you to the neighborhood of contacts and opportunities.

(Dr. Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2012 Passage Media. The opinions are solely those of the writer.)

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