4. Avoid making assumptions
At age 53, William Wages interviewed for a computer technical position at a college. Although the position paid almost 20 percent less than his previous computer job, he wanted it for its advancement potential. But by the time he returned home, an email was waiting for him. The college had hired someone else.
“They hired two more guys who were in their 20s,” 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 like Wages are interested in opportunity, not just income. In the long run, he says the college shortchanged him and itself. He says older workers are there for the long haul and typically don’t job-hop for better wages, as younger workers are more inclined to do.
5. Appeal to a broad customer base
At age 68, pharmacist Jerry Welenc worked full time at a supermarket chain and one day a week at a national warehouse chain.
He recalls how recruiters began “circling [pharmacists] like buzzards in the desert” when the supermarket began closing its stores. But Welenc was hoping to land a full-time pharmacy job at the warehouse. Little by little, his hopes faded. Pharmacy jobs were going to younger people. Even the warehouse’s print ads reflected its preference for youth — “Come to our pharmacy and visit our fresh, young faces.”
Fortunately, one drugstore actively recruited Welenc, at age 71, for one of its Chicago stores. The main reason he accepted the job was because of the recruiter’s attitude toward mature workers. The pharmacy valued Welenc’s experience, which was reinforced by a benefits package that appealed to him as an experienced worker. They recognized what employers often say they value in experienced workers —good communication skills, a strong work ethic and lower attrition.
Organizations benefit when recruiters cast a wide net to attract workers of all ages. Not only can employees learn from each other, but they can also attract a broader customer base. For example, mature individuals filling prescriptions may be more comfortable with a pharmacist closer to their own age.
Employers that advertise for “fresh, young faces” risk running afoul of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces. It’s illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of age (40 or older), among other things.
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