As an entrepreneur, I am always attending networking functions, whether private organizations or those I have been invited to as a result of professional association. Over the past year, I have come into contact with an alarming number of people over the age of 50 that are unemployed and frustrated at their inability to gain employment in fields where they have more than 20 years of experience.
So what’s the problem?
Initially I suggested everything from rewording their resume, to an award winning author I am affiliated with who specializes in helping 40+ executives re-enter the job market. However, upon further investigation and interviews, I have begun to see consistencies with the responses and treatment of those applicants who are a part of the Baby Boom generation.
Phrases like, "you are too qualified for this position", "I would feel uncomfortable asking you to work for this wage", or my favorite, "I don’t think you will stay, if something better comes along", were common in my discussions with more than 20 prospective applicants.
As I began to analyze this mindset, it became obvious why employers are willing to pass up a wealth of experience and knowledge….Money! Statistically speaking, older employees cost an employer more in salary, benefits, and longevity. Therefore, companies look for younger workers who are convinced they don’t need health insurance, will work for a lower wage and typically stay at a company less than two years…but how sound is that reasoning?
Who really loses?
While an employer may save money on the front end by hiring the less skilled worker, this philosophy is contrary to strong growth and a high level of customer service. A company’s success can be identified by its positioning among its target audience and markets. In many instances, seasoned employees understand what it takes through years of experience and practical knowledge. While I can’t discount the fact older workers tend to be set in their ways and less flexible with change, who would you rather have Michael Jordan or a rookie straight out of college?
Effective business occurs through critical thinking, process analysis, and strategy development. Having experienced workers allows for a diversity of ideas, insightful analysis from a historical perspective, and in many cases a refinement that only comes from living a while. So the next time you find yourself looking for a new employee, take the time to consider who will bring "the most bang for the buck".
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