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August 2, 2011

Are You Too Old to Get Hired?

Filed under: Employees and Human Resources — Tags: , , — Mike Van Horn @ 4:48 pm
My response to BNET post by Suzanne Lucas, the “Evil HR Lady,” on 7.29.11 advising older workers (over 40!) how to get hired, when they likely face tacit age bias.
Here’s another suggestion: Look at job opportunities in smaller companies. I advise owners of small and growing businesses. Few of them are UNDER 40. When hiring for professional-level jobs, they want the best professionals. These owners have often been burned by younger employees, many of whom have poor work habits (e.g., spending too much work time on the iPhone), and an unrealistic viewpoint on job perks and advancement.

Here’s what these owners look for in a candidate. Many older people have a strong edge in these:
— Know the ropes. Good work ethic.
— Professional demeanor and appearance.
— Ability and willingness to master new systems and technologies. Not Facebook and Twitter, but accounting and inventory control.
— Practical experience handling varied situations. Not just book learning.
— Strong customer service personalities. Customers like maturity. So do vendors.
— Used to taking initiative, solving problems, and then telling how they solved it. Not asking how to handle every unfamiliar thing.
— Likely to stick around. Not constantly shopping their resume around.
— Seen as a wise and mature person by other employees, especially subordinates.
— Kids are older or grown. Fewer sudden absences because little Johnny has the sniffles.
— Can see the managerial picture. Good understanding of what the owner is up against. Able to take the viewpoint of the company, rather than acting like a “shop steward.”

Many owners I work with are looking for a strong #2–someone with the capability of taking a leading position in the company, to free the owner up to focus on strategic concerns. One of my clients recently hired a woman in her late 40s to become the ops manager of her 10-person company. They are now negotiating for the manager to buy her out, so my client can retire.

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