By Janice Burch, Co-founder, Pro Resume Center, LLC
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, within just five years approximately 25 percent of the workforce—that's one in four—will be age 55 or older – and that number is going to continue to increase.
I have worked with a number of job candidates over the age of 45 and it continues to amaze me the level of talent, experience and wisdom they can bring to their next employer. Hiring the “older worker” should be on the radar of every hiring manager for the value they offer to companies in terms of wisdom, experience, resiliency, loyalty and leadership.
Before I dive in, I believe it is important to establish one thing. I co-own a company with a business partner who is 20+ years my junior, and the combination of our skills and talents are a gift every single day to our business. There are things I never could accomplish and risks I never would have taken (and would have later regretted) without his expertise and more youthful mindset. I also have worked closely with passionate, driven and creative professionals between the ages of 21 and 45 who exhibit the qualities outlined below. The purpose of this article, however, is to illustrate the growing older worker population, and highlight some of the best skills and qualities these job candidates bring to the workplace. Why?
The Workforce is Aging
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 22.2 percent of the workforce is 55 years old and over, and rising every month for the foreseeable future. The stats say the number of older workers in the US workforce will continue to increase until 2022.
With that, here are my top 12 reasons employers should consider hiring the older worker:
- Excellent mentors. There is nothing like having a mature worker around to share experiences and provide wisdom for challenging situations to help a younger staff grow and learn.
- Focused on goals. Won’t drone on endlessly at meetings trying to prove their value, because quite frankly, they already know they bring value to the company and don’t have to spend everyone’s valuable time by repeatedly trying to prove it through the gift of gab.
- Highly developed soft skills groomed through decades of face-to-face communication – before texting, before cell phones, before Skype. The older worker knows how to handle a face-to-face lunch meeting with no hesitation, or how to engage a potential standoffish client by connecting personally – communication skills that come with time and confidence. Younger workers can gain so much by watching this in action and implementing what they learn.
- Not afraid to speak up. The older worker is not going to sit on a great idea or time saver because of fears of stepping on someone’s feet. They tend to speak up when they see something that can be improved and know how to do it with grace.
- Less ramp up time. After 20 years in a career, older workers have an understanding of how the cog works and can easily jump in to quickly learn a company’s specific process and can run with it.
- They WANT to be there. They are likely more concerned with delivering great service, product and performance during their workday than things like status symbols, who you're seen talking with, titles and a corner office. They tend to apply to jobs they REALLY want to do, instead of using it as a stepping stone for their 20-year career plan.
- They tend to be more loyal, staying with a company longer. The length of time a worker remains with the same employer increases with the age at which the worker began the job according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Of the jobs that workers began when they were 18 to 24 years of age, 69 percent of those jobs ended in less than a year and 93 percent ended in fewer than 5 years. Among jobs started by 40 to 48 year olds, 32 percent ended in less than a year and 69 percent ended in fewer than 5 years.
- More resilient. Older workers have acquired the ability to shake things off. They know that when things don’t go their way, it does not mean they should give up, get mad or blame someone else. Their years have taught them that a setback is temporary and simply creates a need to develop a different plan of attack to achieve the goal.
- Excellent time managers. They understand the power of pre-planning and list-making to accomplish big and little things each day. They likely managed a household with young children in early years and in past positions had to streamline to be most efficient with their time to get the greatest results and get home. They don’t dilly dally.
- Have an established network. After working for a couple of decades, most professionals have a broad network of contacts that could prove helpful to gaining momentum and exposure for your company’s brand.
- Low maintenance. Older workers tend to not need constant kudos and strokes. They mostly want to show up, get the job done right and get home to yoga, family or new grandkids. That still doesn't mean however, that they should not receive kudos when earned. Everyone needs to feel appreciated, but older workers tend to not center their confidence and performance on it.
- Provide a great add to the company culture. Company culture is big these days and young companies can benefit from hiring someone who has been in the business world for 20 years yet is abreast of the latest technology and processes. These workers are valuable resources that can help a young inexperienced company go from just having potential to being wildly successful.
Next time hiring managers think it would be a mistake to hire the older worker, they should think instead of the extraordinary value the seasoned candidate can bring to the company and its clients.
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