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 Elvesonhttp://billions1.wix.com/fasthire
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 has 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 result 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 us to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.
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rob moses
rob moses

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.

John Prpich

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.

Terry
Terry

Awesome article. Our society has traditionally tossed away the older generation. Thank about the concept of tge Senior Centers.

Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent

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.

Chris Pehura

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?

Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler

Great post Joel. Being 65 I can really relate to your post

Sandy Chernoff

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.

Maria Lehtman

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.

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