Never Mind My Age – It’s My Experience That Counts …

[Author’s Note: Dedicated to my father of blessed memory, for whom until the day he was felled by a heart attack in his 60’s, retirement was a dirty word.]

HEY KIDS, Grandma & Grandpa are coming over this weekend.” Awright! I love it when Grandpa plays catch with me. I remember how much we used to laugh when Grandpa used to rub our bare feet against his beard. Your father and I love hearing the stories of the places your Grandmother and Grandfather worked at. Back then there were no computers and telephones were so different.

It’s so sad that the both of them are so young and so full of life with so much experience yet nobody wants to hire them because they are too old. It doesn’t matter that they are more versed in today’s technology than many of those who are in charge of hiring. Just about every ad you see they want “kids” out of college. Somehow I just see them sitting around feeding pigeons at the park or playing golf all day.

Okay, hold it right there! 60 is old? As it happens I am just shy of 60 and reject the ridiculous notion I or others in my age can’t work anymore or that it is time to “step aside.” Using the lead in above I am going to tackle the issue of the “older worker” and the difficulty they face in today’s job market.

One of the concerns employers have is that an older worker will only stay about three to five years and retire after investing time to train you. Having looked at many resumes I can’t begin to tell you how rare it is that people in all age brackets stay at one job for over three years. While I have not done any statistical research as to what age group stays on the job for the longest period of time, I think it is safe to say a person near retirement age looking for a new job is any more likely to stay a shorter period of time than a younger worker.

Another issue that becomes a very big stumbling block to overcome is compensation. Experience costs more but often time brings more. Depending on the major and the school a college graduate without experience may very well command the same starting salary. The difference is that with experience comes maturity which is complimented by a superior work ethic. Many sales or IT jobs require more than just 9-5 hours. When you are in your 20’s working late or working weekends or both is not something you are overly excited about.

It is true as we age our bodies do not function as well as when we were younger. Too many employers that may increase the cost of their employee health premiums. However, many older workers already have health insurance, etc. in place and may not need what the employer provides. In instances like that, an employer is gaining a valuable asset without increasing their insurance premiums. A person starting out in the workforce especially a young married couple will need benefits and would likely turn down a job if a full package is not provided.

Sadly the above are only a small part of the reason older workers are not hired. If you look at professional sports, an athlete is considered old if they are over 30. The time clock on their career is ticking. Our society has become conditioned due to the above that people in my age bracket are viewed as almost obsolete.

If you are denied a job based on your age or suspect you were denied due to your age you should contact your local labor office or consult a legal professional who specializes in employment law, your State Human Rights Commission, or an organization such as AARP.

To give yourself an edge in defeating stereotypes and prejudice, you have to sell the person you are sitting in front of that your age is just a number. Be sure to have highlights of your accomplishments on your resume. Don’t be afraid to be very emphatic that you have the skills the company is looking for and that your experience benefits them. Fight the negativity you sense they are expressing about your age with all the benefits they are getting by hiring you.

Joel Elveson
Joel Elvesonhttps://jelveson.wixsite.com/recruitersite
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. As usual, Joel, excellent article and shareable suggestions. I also share the comments.
    What kind of society have we become if we consider that in the mature age there is nothing else to give? People should be evaluated based on their knowledge and experience. Mature men and women know how to manage relationships, they know what to say and what to hide. Are they rejected only because they don’t obey? Or maybe because they make objections that can bring down certain certainties? I believe there are people who would have fewer mistakes if they had the help of a mature person. A mature worker is not concentrated on himself, he / she has a soul open to the world: he / she does not know things by hearsay, but has made them his own. For this reason it is wise and reliable. From an experienced worker the younger one can only learn.

    • Aldo, thank you for your enlightening comments. One of the other objections employers have about hiring older and more experienced workers is that they feel this person is not as trainable or open to doing things differently than they have in the past. Their philosophy is “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” To an extent, this may be true but not in every case. Younger workers (if they choose to listen to us “old folks) could gain much knowledge and insight. Our knowledge and experience may come at a higher salary cost which is also something many employers like to hire younger people since they can pay them less. There is so much an employer can gain from hiring an older worker but sadly they just don’t see things in that manner.

      • Absolutely agree.
        In the collective imagination, becoming an elderly means, more often than not, going through a phase of life characterized by negative events, especially due to a mentality that places the immediate usefulness and productivity of man first. Motivations may have a foundation on which they are based. But experience cannot be bought and is an invaluable wealth. And that which is done by oneself from a smaller amount of information than that made by others.
        The seniors are not a static model, and we should learn to appreciate the figure of the elderly, of which it is important to enhance the effective, working, economic and cultural capacities, as an active and vital person. A figure that, in a context of family and society crisis, becomes a point of reference for each of us.

  2. Thank you for the post, Joel! Such a valuable asset, age with the right experience and patience with people. You have good points about hiring “aging” generation. Our society is keeping people working who are too ill, and yet letting go people who aren’t. There are some fields, like industrial electric engineering, where I know people are hard pressed to keep to their retirement. They are likely to be let go earlier nowadays – but called back on projects even after retiring due to project complications that require years of incremental know-how.

    • Thank you, Maria, for reading and commenting on my artilce. The disturbing trend I am seeing today is that if you are on the market in your “mature” years you will have a very difficult time finding a new job. An experienced or “mature” worker will likely be set in their ways with little ability or willingness to adapt to new thinking or methodologies. This can be true to an extent but you cannot stereotype people. The other concern is that a worker in this age bracket may not stay very long causing the company to have to hire somebody else while suffering from work flow disruptions or high recruiting costs. A recent Grad is more attractive as they can pay them less while molding them into the company way. Recent grads are not likely to commit to the extra time and effort that is needed.

      • Yes, the hidden costs are never apparent. We need a mix of mature and new employees and leaders. A personality matters. An experienced interviewer knows how to read a good candidate no matter the candidate’s age. The challenge, as you say, comes very often in the funding. Sometimes you find workarounds, like supporting degrees for a more experienced talent – but only if the envelope supports the hiring.

        • Maria,
          I agree with your comments wholeheartedly. Having been on and off the job market myself (G-d willing I will be turning 63 on the 13th of next month) I have experienced first hand from interviews and job postings people in my age bracket due to reasons above are not overly desirable.

  3. Post that is very true, and so also very sad, Joel. I also believe that experience can bring a different dimension to the table and although young people think because they have the “latest” information & technological know how that they are the best for any position, in my own experience, that is rarely the case. As a much older person myself, my age is “just a number” I do not feel, act, or look my age and have never had trouble getting hired as a consultant/trainer. I guess it does depend on the employer, too. thanks so much for sharing this information and bringing it forward for others to consider.

    • Sandy, I feel EXACTLY as you do! I do not look my age or feel my age. At times I can act younger and sillier than my age dictates. Unfortunately, too many employers focus on age. They feel an older worker will be to set in their ways with an inability or unwillingness to change. Older and more experienced workers will command a higher dollar figure while a younger person starting out can be paid less. I want to thank you, Sandy, for your reading my articles and providing your very insightful comments.

  4. I worked on teams of various different dimensions. I was the only one on the team that was ____.

    I was on a team where I was the only man. I was on a team where I was the only Westerner. I was on the on a team where I was the only Caucasian. I was on a team where I was the only one over 30 years old. I was on a team where I was the only one under 60 years old.

    In each and every case, I faced discrimination. And despite the different dimensions of each and every team, the discrimination was orchestrated the same way. Despite all our differences, we are all fundamentally the same.

    When I face this discrimination, I keep in mind the importance of experience, mine and those on my team. After all, do you rely on someone that has done the same thing for twenty years; or do you rely on someone that has done different things to that same thing for twenty years?

    • Chris,
      You certainly have had a rough time of things from what you describe. We are fundamentally the same yet that fact does not always translate into the workplace where other dynamics come into play. As to the question you raised in the last paragraph of your comments I would say either can be an asset depending on the nature of the organization and the work that is being performed. Thank you Chris for your usual thought provoking comments.

  5. Ken,
    This is the age old dilemma that mature workers face as they look for a new job. In many employers eyes an older worker will only work for a short time before retiring and collecting a pension. This is a stereotype that has not been broken. Your comment about a youngster looking for a new job to enhance their career and earnings rings very true. The younger worker raises question of responsibility and drive. Both classes of worker present a quandary of which is best to hire. My own opinion (that I put forth in this article) is that the older more experienced worker is the safer choice to hire. Thank you Ken (as always) for your contribution to these discussion in addition to your very generous comment.

  6. Another good article, Joel.

    Presumably a 55 year old with 30 years of experience has developed some wisdom, though I’ve known some that had no more wisdom than when they started.

    One should also consider the difference between 30 years of experience and 1 year of experience repeated 29 times. Big difference.

    It seem to me that since it is hard for a 55 year old to find a good job, that once he/she has secured one, they are more likely to stay put than a youngster looking for new opportunities and more money.

    Frankly, I prefer mature and seasoned workers, even if they are more expensive. A smattering of youth and their enthusiasm is a good seasoning for the broth though.

    • Terry, Thank you reading my article in addition to your very generous compliment. You comment is 100% correct when state how society tosses away the older generation as if they were trash. People forget the contributions these people have made whereas a younger person in all likelihood has in most cases not made similar contributions as they do not have skills or in many cases the necessary drive.

    • Ken,
      It is never guaranteed that the older worker especially one with the amount of experience you alluded to in your comments. When an older worker becomes such he may have lost his enthusiasm for his job. At that point a change must be made. The younger worker in many instances will have his eyes and heart set on greater things such as a higher salary. A 55 year old worker may have a more difficult time finding a new job for a variety of reasons including the expectation of higher compensation, the length of time they will work before retiring. Thank you Ken for your usual participation.

  7. Joel, age discrimination has been around a long time, good luck trying to prove it, it’s completely a waste of time. I’ve never seen any proof that mature workers will turnover and quicker than the current generations how tend to stay less than an average of 3 years on any job. If there is motivation for younger employees it’s basically financially driven.
    Some of the challenges that mature workers bring on themselves is not caring about their appearance and not staying current in their field, I don’t blame employers for these two considerations. So many posters don’t seem to understand that experience is meaningless without contextualizing it. It’s not how long you’ve done something that’s important, it’s how well, would you select a person with 20 years of mediocre or average performance or a person with 5 years of outstanding performance.
    Your analogy using athletes isn’t a good one, it doesn’t have to do with the mind, but the physical pounding the body can take, that’s the driver.
    Here’s the real issue, everyone assumes the employer knows what they want or what the need, they’ve proven over and over again that they don’t, just look to their turnover or engagement survey scores.

    • John, Thank you for reading my article in addition to your comments. On some levels I agree with you but on others I do not. This is obviously a very sensitive issue that will evoke emotions and responses from various angles. I look forward to your continued readership and accompanying comments.

  8. Well said Joel. You might add that we older workers are more reliable as we do not take as much time off for sick kids, come in with hangovers from a night out, nor spend as much time in social apps as younger workers. Our maturity (usually) helps stabilize the office environment by minimizing politics and gossip.

    • Rob,
      Thank you for reading and commenting on my article. In my opinion the older worker represents a bigger value to the company as opposed to a younger worker who needs be trained but does not have necessary level of maturity to invest the time and energy that is needed to complete the tasks at hand.

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