The Maturity Bonus – Hiring the “Older Worker”

Posted: July 12, 2011 in career
Tags: , , , , ,

Many individuals who would be entertaining retirement in a better economy are finding themselves staying in the workforce much longer. Sometimes this is the result of finances, and other times it is more a case of their not being ready to stop working. This decision, of course, places them in the position of both competing for as well as potentially working for individuals who could be decades their junior! How can these “mature” candidates make the case for their employability?

Although the following characteristics are hardly exclusive to the “older worker,” here are some suggestions as to the key qualifications the mature candidate can offer their next employer.

Experience
“Experience is the teacher of all things,” a quote attributed to Julius Caesar, may not always be accurate, but those who have been around longer have certainly amassed more experience. Learning by doing will always be a key way to gather knowledge and expertise, and those whose life experiences span a greater time frame certainly have had this opportunity.

Expertise
Experience can beget expertise, as the more time we spend doing something, the better we get at it. Thus, the worker who has been at it longer is likely to have well developed skills in their areas of experience.

Real-World Knowledge
As contrasted with theory and concepts, the individual who has been at work and life for a longer time frame has had the opportunity to connect what is being taught and written about with what really happens out there.

Demonstrated Interpersonal Skills
“Playing well with others,” being a good team member, demonstrating facility in effective communication, etc., all have had the opportunity to be more developed in those who have been around longer.

Work Ethic
Although this is not universally the case, the “Protestant Work Ethic” is often well developed in those individuals from earlier generations, many of whom have spent extended time in the work force. Showing up on time, being responsible and dependable, exchanging a good day’s work for a fair day’s pay, etc., are often well developed in the mature employee.

 

Why They Are “Not” the Best Candidates: Mature Worker Concerns
As I am frequently working with individuals who would fall into this category, I will often suggest that the key reasons they may not be hired may include the following:

  • They want too much money.
  • They are not good at change.
  • Their technical skills are poor.
  • They may have impending health issues.

My counsel to these individuals is to demonstrate in their resume, interviewing and lifestyle that these reasons cannot be categorically applied to them as older candidates. With these issues addressed, they are able to present themselves as exceptional candidates based on all of the attributes noted above.

A Word on the Younger Candidate

To be fair, many younger workers can possess these qualities as well. The only item that may not be there for them is experience. But you can address that deficit by hiring them!

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