Why would you want to hire an older, experienced employee? Why not!

In my last post I shared some insight from many job seekers in the Nashville area regarding their largest hurdles in the job search process.  I will take some time this morning to “drill down” on the age issue, the most commonly listed problem in the process.

Here are some of the issues I listed in that earlier post:

Why would an employer choose to avoid a candidate over a certain age?  Here are a few guesses I have:

  • The candidate may not work as hard as a younger person
  • The older candidate may have health issues
  • Older candidates may be over qualified

Why should an employer choose to look more closely at an older candidate?  Try these on for size:

  • Older candidates are more knowledgeable about the ways of the workplace
  • Experienced candidates may take less time to get up to speed
  • Older candidates typically do not have issues with young children getting sick or dealing with school issues
  • Older candidates understand how to “pace” themselves
  • Experienced candidates will usually make more logical and rational decisions in their personal and work life

Avoiding older employees makes some sense on the surface.  There is no doubt that some older workers slow down as they age, but I also see many who work harder by knowing how to break work down and also how to pace themselves.  Older workers also may understand the importance of things being done on time.  Certainly, health issues can arise with older workers, but most of the health issues I am aware of only become chronic when not managed properly.  Workers with proper medical care (at any age) are less prone to have challenges than those going untreated.  Alas, the final comment assumes that an overqualified older candidate may “move on” when a better role arises.  I suspect this is to the contrary of the truth.  Most of the mature workers I know are not in the “rat race’ for the next run on the ladder.  They are looking for a place to plug in and be productive.  The younger worker is much more prone to move on for a raise or improvement in stature.

Let’s look at some of the positives.  There is no doubt that older, more experienced employees, can ramp up and be effective more quickly.  Many of these employees understand what it takes to be successful and they rise to the challenge.  Older employees are also less prone to have family issues, especially children, to hamper their ability to attend work.  I am not saying to avoid younger employees with children, but we all know that family takes the top priority, it did for my wife and me, so be aware of this.  Older employees may not be the speediest, but they know how to “pace” themselves and they can get jobs done simply because of their understanding of “chunking work” into pieces that make things more manageable.

The last reason to hire older candidates is their life experience.  Most of these workers have had ups and downs that help them see how their current situation fits into the big picture.  This is impossible to teach to someone younger.

Age and experience; they can be a great ally to the workplace if you use them correctly.

I am enclosing some links to other blogs below from others writing on this topic.