If you’re age 50+ and in the midst of a career transition, more likely than not you’re experiencing unique challenges specific to your generation. Let’s face it, most of us who are defined by “The Boom” have had personal encounters with age discrimination in the job search process—unjustified though it is. How many of you have intentionally trimmed the timeline on your resume in an attempt to appear younger and thus, more attractive to potential employers? Well boomers, hold off on that trip to Costco for the bonus-sized 36-pack of Depends and 90-day supply of Geritol and hang on to your integrity because I’m here on your behalf to state your case for viability as desirable employees.
Recently, Agelsesinamerica.com published 10 Myths and 10 Facts… About Mature Workers, debunking the most prevalent of conventional myths regarding workers age 50+. Chances are, you’ve heard at least some of these play over and over in your head like a broken record: Boomers won’t stay in their jobs, they get sick all the time, they’re less productive and not as competent as younger workers, they have questionable decision-making skills, forgetful, they’re more expensive to insure, less adaptable to change and techno-phobic—yadayadayada. My personal favorite is, “Baby boomers have such a sense of entitlement.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and present a different take. Here are 5 reasons why employers should hire mature workers (actually defined by the US Congress as those 45+):
Reason #1: Employers are increasingly valuing soft skills
Experience breeds wisdom. Mature workers have more life-experience and are therefore, more articulate communicators (like, you know) and socially graced, as well as better negotiators and stronger leaders than many of their under 45 counterparts. They are also more responsible and better-oriented toward customer service. I vividly recall the mantra, “The customer is always right!” on my first retail job as a teenager. Soft skills are in especially high demand whenever there is a need to deal with customers face-to-face.
Reason #2: Mature workers are more capable decision makers
Experience breeds caution. Contrary to the popular myth, mature workers have accumulated the necessary wisdom and thoughtfulness essential to making difficult decisions. They make take longer, but that added caution translates to a smaller margin of error than often exists with decisions made by younger workers.
Reason #3: Mature workers are more flexible
Mature workers, are better positioned and more willing to accept flexible, employer-friendly work arrangements, such as part-time or contract work than are younger workers with growing families and higher expenses.
Reason #4: Mature workers offer employers greater stability
Mature workers define a steady workforce. They are far less likely to change positions or voluntarily leave their jobs for “something better.” This saves companies millions of dollars as well as millions of person hours spent writing and placing ads, screening and interviewing applicants and training new hires.
Reason #5: Employers need to count on boomers to meet the projected workforce shortage
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a shortage of 10 million workers in the US by next year (2010). That, coupled with historic numbers of retirees (estimates indicate by 2011 another boomer will retire every eight seconds until 2021), suggests that employers will need to create boomer-friendly environments that encourage mature workers to either stay on the job longer or come out of retirement, possibly in other capacities such as consultants, trainers and coaches.
These are just my top five reasons for hiring mature workers; there are many others. Feel free to add your own via comment. I also encourage younger readers to add their take on the topic.
I’m in the process of interviewing a couple of Human Resources professionals and will be posting those interviews here very soon. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a thing.
Until next time… Get it real and Keep it real.