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6 Tips for Successfully Recruiting Experienced Workers

Do you know what attracts experienced individuals to your company? Better yet, do you know what their impression is of your organization after interviewing?

To attract mature workers, it's important to know which recruiting practices are effective and which may be detrimental to your efforts to attract and retain talent. The perspectives of mature workers are ones you'll want to consider before targeting your recruitment efforts to this pool of skilled and experienced workers.

Pay attention to words used in job ads

At age 55, Trudy W. Schuett began hunting for a part time job. When scouring the want ads, one sentence in an ad caught her attention: "Great opportunity for working moms and retirees."

"I knew I wanted it," recalls Schuett, explaining that she knew her age would not be an issue. She says the interviewer also mentioned that the job would never evolve into a full time position, which is exactly what she wanted to hear. Schuett accepted the position.

Words matter. The words or phrases used in job ads can turn job seekers on or off. While mentioning that you're an equal opportunity employer is fine, stating, "great opportunities for retirees" is better. There's no second-guessing. Mature workers know they're wanted and will apply.

Explain why interviewees didn't get the job

Carol Ethridge was excited about her job interview for a certified medical coder at an insurance company. But she was surprised that the company never contacted her afterwards to explain why she wasn't hired, especially since they paid for her travel expenses to the out-of-state interview.

"It may have been my age," suspects Ethridge, who is 64 years-old. "They didn't know what I looked like. And I still see the job notice so they haven't hired anyone yet."

Follow up is essential. Contact all interviewees explaining why they were not chosen for the job. Otherwise, qualified candidates may jump to the wrong conclusion and alert others to your company's practices, potentially damaging your reputation in the labor market and opening the door to possible age bias claims. Communicating with applicants up front minimizes the need to undertake damage control efforts on the back end.

Train interviewers on assessing skills

Back in 2005, Richard Gray, Ph.D., was hired to develop a doctoral program for Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, AL. At the time, he was 70 years-old.

"Age, education, and experience are things that are very desirable for white collar positions," says Gray, who now serves as the dean of the college of business at Columbia. "Have the people doing the interviewing have some maturity about this…[Not everyone] will have the experience or knowledge of how to assess an older person's contributions."

Train interviewers on how to determine whether someone's skills and experiences can be applied to the job or even other open positions. Recruiters need to understand the benefits of experience.

Avoid making assumptions

William Wages, age 53, interviewed for a computer technical position at a local college. Although the position paid almost 20 percent less than his previous computer job, he still wanted it because of the potential for advancement. But by the time he returned home, an email was waiting for him from the college, stating that they had hired someone else.

"They hired two more guys who were in their twenties," says Wages. "Because of my age, I guess they didn't think I would drop down to the lower salary. They made [wrong] assumptions."

Many mature candidates are interested in opportunity, not just income. Wages says the salary decrease was acceptable because there was potential for growth and learning. In the long run, he says the college short-changed itself and him. He says mature workers are there for the long haul and typically don't job hop for better wages

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