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12 reasons to hire older

Written by: Janice Burch
Published on: Mar 14, 2018


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22.4 percent of the workforce in 2016 was 55 years and older, and projections show that figure rising every month for the foreseeable future. Within just six years, one in four workers will belong to the “older” age group.

I have worked with a number of older job candidates, and I am continually amazed at the level of talent, experience, and wisdom they can bring to their next employer. For the value they offer in terms of resiliency, loyalty, and leadership, the “older worker” should be on every hiring manager’s radar.

Full disclosure: I co-own a company with a business partner who is more than 20 years my junior, and that combination is an advantage to our business every single day. I have also worked closely with passionate, driven, creative professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who exhibit the qualities outlined below. The purpose of this article is not to discredit younger workers, but to highlight why older workers play a valuable role in any company’s mix of talent.

With that, here are my top 12 reasons employers should consider hiring the older worker:

  1. They make excellent mentors. Nothing helps younger staff grow and learn like having a mature worker on-hand to share their experiences, wisdom, and insight into what worked (and what didn’t) in challenging situations.

  2. They’re focused on end-goals. They won’t drone on endlessly at meetings, wasting everyone’s time trying to prove their value, because they already know the value they bring to the company.

  3. Highly developed soft skills. Groomed through decades of face-to-face communication – in a time before texting, cell phones, and Skype – the older worker knows how to handle a lunch meeting with no hesitation, to engage a standoffish client by connecting personally, and more, using empathy, skill, and confidence. Younger workers can gain much by watching this in action.

  4. They’re not afraid to speak up. The older worker is not going to sit on a great idea or time-saver because they fear stepping on someone’s toes. When they see something that can be improved, they make it known, and will present it with respect for all involved.

  5. Less ramp-up time. After 20 years in a career, older workers understand how each cog fits, and can easily jump in, learn a company’s specific process quickly, and run with it.

  6. They WANT to be there. More concerned with delivering great service, products, and performance than things like status symbols, titles and a corner office – they’ve been there and done that – older workers tend to apply to jobs they really want to do (rather than seeking a stop-gap or stepping stone).

  7. They tend to stay with a company longer. The length of time a worker remains with the same employer increases with the age at which the worker began the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics: For instance, 69 percent of workers who started a job when they were between 18 and 24 years old lasted less than a year, while that figure is just 32 percent for workers hired at 40-48 years old.

  8. They’re more resilient. When things don’t go their way, they know it does not mean they should give up, get mad, or blame someone else. Their years have taught them that setbacks are temporary, and missed goals can be achieved with a different plan of attack.

  9. Excellent time management skills. They understand the power of pre-planning and list-making to accomplish big and little things each day. They likely managed a household with young children during their career, and learned to be efficient with their time to achieve the greatest results so they can get home.

  10. Established networks. After working for a couple of decades, most professionals have a broad network of contacts that could prove helpful in gaining momentum and exposure for your company’s brand and augment the quality of resources or vendors.

  11. Low maintenance. Older workers tend not to need constant kudos. They mostly want to show up, get the job done right, and get home to family, exercise, or other passions. That doesn't mean they should not receive praise when earned – everyone needs to feel appreciated – but older workers tend not to depend on it for their confidence or dedication.

  12. They add to the company culture. Workplace culture is big these days, and young companies can benefit from hiring someone who has been in the business world for 20 years. Cultural understanding is a valuable resource that can help a young and inexperienced company fulfill its potential.

Janice Burch is an executive career coach, resume writer, and co-founder of Pro Resume Center

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form on the Pro Resume Center blog.