Ever hear the story of the manager who wanted to hire a professional with a bachelor’s degree and 20 years of experience, yet not older than 32? Apparently only prodigies were qualified.
In today’s workplace, hiring managers seem to gravitate towards the younger generation, despite the fact that millennials have minimal hands-on knowledge and work experience, and ample proof they expect to fast track their career and have few concerns about job hopping.
I often hear that older, more experienced professionals are passed over for new jobs because the hiring manager thinks they’ll leave once they find a better role or is afraid these professionals won’t be challenged enough. Or even worse, they don’t feel comfortable managing someone older than themselves.
There are a few things wrong with these assumptions. The biggest might be that companies are passing on some great talent, but also they’re missing the opportunity to create a more knowledgeable, committed, and stable environment.
Older Professionals Provide Stability To Their Employers
Professionals in the latter part of their careers care about making a contribution to a company. They believe in being part of something bigger than themselves, and value hard work, a commitment to values, and creating an environment that’s healthy and stable.
They don’t expect things to be perfect in their new organization. As a matter of fact, they know there’ll be challenges at work. More experienced professionals have been through two major recessions in the last 15 years. They’re used to weathering storms and won’t be rattled when their organization hits a low point.
In fact, they see those challenges as reasons why they should be hired when competing with millennials for the same position. They know the talent and experience they bring will help the company work through the rough patches.
Experienced Professionals Want Challenging Work
Advancing technology and global competitiveness present challenges to companies big and small. Employees are usually carrying significantly larger workloads than their predecessors did before the technology boon. While companies cautiously increase their staffing levels to meet growing demands, older professionals embrace new challenges while bringing both balance and life experience to help companies grow and evolve.
There’s a perception that older workers are behind the times and have to come up-to-speed with the latest technology tools, but this often is not the case. Experienced professionals grew up with changing technologies and bring a wealth of experience that may actually put them far ahead of younger workers. Employers are likely to find that older employees are better at
- Resolving logistical problems
- Understanding how their work fits into the larger whole
- Developing interpersonal workplace relationships
- Putting company goals ahead of personal goals
- Navigating the emotional ups and downs of change and uncertainty
Older professionals appreciate the companies that hire them and typically show greater loyalty to their employer than younger professionals. They’re eager to be of value and want their new company to benefit from their years of experience. They are motivated to use the skills and insight they’ve developed over the years to solve the problems their organization is facing.
Experienced professionals are more aware of what they do well and what they want to do. Although they may see the opportunity to do more than just the role they’re hired for, their motivation is to make a contribution to the company.
Experienced Professionals’ Strategic Advantage
One great contribution experienced professionals can make is mentoring less experienced employees. The perspective, depth of knowledge, and judgment brought by older professionals can be a strategic asset for companies smart enough to leverage that advantage with mentoring programs. Companies that pair older and younger professionals can quickly see overall productivity go up and costs go down as the generations cross-pollinate ideas and skills to quickly minimize their weaknesses and augment their strengths.
There are many ways mentoring programs can be set up. Mentoring Millennials by Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd in the Harvard Business Review talks about three approaches and goes further in discussing the advantages of joining older and younger professionals together.
There are advantages to hiring millennials; lower cost comes to mind. But the Baby Boomers and Gen X generations bring an energy, commitment and stability that comes only with life experience and a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.
It is my hope that as hiring for 2017 picks up, companies will see the advantages to hiring people who have likely already done the job many times over. What they’ll bring to the table are experiences, perspectives, and a work ethic that only come with age.
Julia is a Career Strategist and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach based in the Bay Area. She helps career-focused professionals showcase their unique abilities and talents in order to amplify their presence in their chosen fields and when re-entering the job market. Julia uses her extensive leadership experience in executive management, business development, team building and recruiting to help her clients have the career they always wanted. Learn more about Julia at www.JuliaHolian.com, www.LinkedIn.com/in/JuliaHolian, https://Twitter.com/JuliaHolian (@JuliaHolian) and www.Facebook.com/JuliaHolian.