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The Myths That Separate You From Top Talent

The top talent you need is not hiding. Smart, skilled, reliable people are at your door waiting for you to invite them in. Instead, you may be allowing stereotypes, misconceptions, biases, and outdated policies to limit the cultural richness that will take you to new heights. Myth rather than fact may be determining who you hire and nurture.

Recruiting a diverse and inclusive workforce creates a strategic advantage that helps achieve long-term business success, along with being the morally and legally right thing to do. Most leaders have come to understand that diversity promotes innovation, better decision-making, and more vibrant, supportive communities that benefit our companies and society at large.

Even in difficult job markets like the one we have now, certain categories of candidates are seen by many as problematic. These include veterans, mothers of young children, people with disabilities, and older adults, who are often judged and eliminated from consideration based on pre-conceived and false assumptions.

The start of a new year is always a good time to refresh our thinking. Let’s debunk some of the myths that separate your business from top talent and limit your potential. It’s also worthwhile to explore different tools that expand your candidate pool and help you grow.


Vets represent the melting pot Americans are so proud of and the diversity that’s been shown to increase productivity and profits in companies nationwide. Companies should be snapping them up! We say that we honor our military institutions, but we’re becoming less willing to honor our vets with what they need most: a meaningful job.


  • Don’t integrate well into civilian work life and tend to quit more quickly than non-vets.
  • Military experience doesn’t equate to civilian experience.
  • Have difficulty shifting from a military to business culture, practices, and work relationships.
  • Can’t easily adapt leadership styles to civilian work environments.


  • Have mainly served in non-combat administrative roles (like engineers and technology developers), gaining skills that transfer easily and effectively to business.
  • Offer backgrounds in the military’s renowned “small-unit leadership” training, helping to ensure that team efforts tie into your overall strategies and goals, eliminating wasted time and productivity.
  • Are used to frequent change, creating a more flexible but stable workplace environment.
  • Are usually drug free and accepting of drug-free programs, increasing safety and building trust.
  • Have been fine-tuned to do things right the first time.
  • Bring with them a number of financially-based government benefits that reduce the costs of training and overall compensation.
Recruiting Tip: Try to hire your veteran candidate’s spouse too and support the needs of families who tend to move a lot.


Working Moms

The acquired skills of working moms bring them to near superhero status. They are brilliant multitaskers and time managers; skilled leaders able to overcome unexpected challenges and quickly adjust to change; and incredibly efficient and productive. Choosing to have children and choosing to have a career are normal behaviors—for both men and women.

What’s not a myth is the motherhood penalty/fatherhood bonus, which means mothers are less likely to be hired, paid less, and considered less competent than fathers, who experience the opposite.


  • Should be at home with their children or they will not be well-adjusted as they grow.
  • Are subject to “mommy brain,” a syndrome that makes them less competent and less fit for work, at least temporarily.
  • Are unreliable and uncommitted employees because they rightly prioritize children and family.
  • Don’t pay enough attention to or don’t care about their families.
  • Are less committed to their careers and are less interested in taking on challenging assignments and roles.


Recruiting Tip: Tiny closets and public restrooms are not the way to serve the needs of new moms. Provide a private, comfortable place for nursing mothers.


People with Disabilities

About ten percent of the world’s population, representing 650 million people, live with a disability, according to the United Nations.

Keep in mind that not all disabilities are visible or obvious. This is the largest minority group in the world made up of some of the most reliable workers any business can hire. It’s a community that any one of us could join at any moment.


  • Lack the ability to do the job, even though what it means to be disabled varies enormously.
  • Require expensive accommodation creating a financial burden.
  • Compromise overall productivity.
  • Are best hired for low-skilled jobs.


  • Most accommodations can be made at no cost and others require a one-time spend of around $500. Benefits, such as reduced insurance and training costs and increased productivity and morale, far outweigh any costs. Often, accommodations made for one person benefit colleagues in various ways.
  • Whether or not a person has a disability is not the driver of productivity. It’s important that people are placed into jobs that fit their skillset and they enjoy doing. The strongest teams were inclusive and diverse in terms of disability. 
  • Like the general population, people with disabilities have a wide range of skills, talents, experiences, and educational backgrounds that can be a fit within a variety of roles.
  • Employees with disabilities typically contribute to creativity, higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and increased customer loyalty.
Recruiting Tip: Take care that your job-description templates don’t use ableist language listing general skills (like “must be able to lift”) or allow only a single channel for applications that cause people with disabilities to self-select out.

Older Adults

People are living longer, and many would-be retirees are both building their retirement coffers and finding challenge and joy in an extended or new career. They bring a lifetime of skills and wisdom to their jobs and can be highly motivated and productive contributors to workplaces. Despite the hesitancy of employers to hire older adults, people age 75 and older are the fastest-growing group in the workforce.


  • Are more expensive: demand higher compensation.
  • Take more sick days.
  • Can’t take direction from younger people.
  • Can’t use technology effectively.
  • Are slower and less productive.
  • Don’t like change.


  • Often hired for more senior roles so get higher compensation accordingly. In other roles are paid about the same as others.
  • Use more healthcare benefits but take fewer sick days. Differences in costs are negligible between younger and older workers and are easily offset by added experience according to Wharton economist Peter Capelli.
  • Often spend time in tasks related to organizational citizenship, like helping, guiding, and mentoring colleagues, supervisors, and new employees. Are less likely to misuse company time and resources.
  • Respond to different management styles than younger managers often use. It’s not related to age so much as flexibility in management styles, requiring that all managers be trained in the flexibility to match style to a diverse workforce.
  • Haven’t all grown up with technology but some are adept so employers should assess, not assume anything about tech skills.
  • May be more open to change than younger workers and more able to adapt to it.


Recruiting Tip: Offer flexible work schedules, match tasks to a worker’s abilities, and promote a safe and ergonomic environment to attract older adults.

People with the skills, creativity, and productivity you need to thrive are looking for good companies. You’ll find many of them in groups with lower rates of employment but equal or higher capability and motivation. Make them the bedrock of your company culture.

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