Older Adult Hard Hat

When the President of the United States delivered the State of the Union address earlier this year, he reported within it some very positive news regarding employment and wages:

  • 4 million new jobs created, with 200,000 in manufacturing, since the election.
  • Unemployment claims at a 45-year low, with African American unemployment at the lowest rate ever recorded and Hispanic at its lowest level.

With data like that, employers may find requisitions take longer to fulfill as they search for the “right” employee for a position.

When you are struggling to fill a position, take a step back and make sure you’re not overlooking promising candidates. Take a second look at the resume of a candidate who, on paper, seems overqualified for the position or isn’t necessarily a perfect match, but has some of the background required. What you’re not seeing on paper is the value an experienced, and perhaps older employee can bring to your business. For example, an employee who has been in the workforce for a while, can bring the following attributes to a business that can benefit the entire organization:

Business Experience. Aside from the industry experience a seasoned staffer brings to a position, he or she also has the general experience of knowing how to behave in a business environment. For example:

  • He has the experience and the confidence to relate and communicate with customers, fellow employees and even the CEO or other top executives much better than a worker who’s new to the workforce.
  • She is reliable and has the maturity, professionalism and work ethic that are hallmarks of a good employee. Older workers understand the job is a time for work. You are expected to show up on time and do your job – not be on your mobile device throughout the day.
  • He has the confidence to make decisions quickly, take responsibility for them and be accountable for his actions. A younger employee with less work experience may not have the confidence to act quickly and decisively and may not be willing to take full responsibility for his actions.

Life’s Lessons. An older worker not only brings the general business and specific job experience to a role, he or she also brings life experience to the work environment which can be shared with younger, fellow employees. For example:

  • She can share tips on how to achieve good work / life balance. Often considered the key to employee satisfaction, finding a way to balance work and home life can take years to achieve. An employee who has reached that balance can share tips and lessons learned with others who are striving to handle work life and home life demands.
  • He could engage in discussions about financial things that younger employees may not understand the value of, such as a matching 401K plan or healthcare spending accounts. Sometimes someone who has benefitted from those programs can better convey their value and the upside of seeing a little less in the take-home paycheck.
  • She also can serve as an overall mentor – someone a younger, less experienced employee can turn to for advice when he isn’t comfortable going to his supervisor first. An experienced staffer can share past experiences and lessons learned with younger workers, which may help prevent mistakes or problems in the future.

Remember, an older worker can easily be trained to use office computer systems, but you can’t train business experience or life’s lessons into people who are new to the workforce. That only comes with age and a robust work history.

Today when you go through a new stack of resumes and applications, or when you meet with your search and staffing agency partner to review candidates, don’t ignore those that seem overly qualified. If you do, you might be passing over a willing, excited employee who could bring a dynamic to the team that propels your business to outperform.

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