When older workers are looking for jobs that match the skills they've built during their careers but also offer flexible schedules and the freedom to work from home, one place they can turn is Work At Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE). WAHVE is one of more than 1,000 employers that have signed AARP's pledge to promote equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age.
Since 2010, WAHVE has specialized in helping both employers and job seekers find the match that best fits their needs. The company currently has 530 older adults working in various assignments nationwide and employs a staff of 45 people — some of whom are in their 70s or 80s — to make sure that these assignments run smoothly for both the workers and their employers.
AARP recently spoke with Sharon Emek, WAHVE's founder and CEO, to get her insights about what employers can do to make sure that older adults have a fair chance to get hired and that age-diverse teams work together successfully. The following excerpts from that conversation have been edited for clarity and length.
WAHVE specializes in matching skilled, older workers with companies that are looking to hire. Based on this expertise, what advice would you give other employers about the best ways to evaluate older job applicants?
Emek: First, I would tell them you need to take the bias out of your hiring process. You really need to first find all the people who have the right experience and skill set that match what you need, and not interview them until you do that. The problem that some companies have is that they put a job ad without really knowing what's the right skills match. A job ad does not usually have a lot of detail about the daily job functions. Without that detail, the companies don't really have a good handle on which are the best candidates to interview.
It is very hard to know if someone is qualified. You can give them some skills tests. You can give them some personality tests, but usually you're not doing that until after you've met them in person, so by then you've probably already rejected someone really great. My suggestion is that companies should first — before they interview anybody— give them some skills assessments, give them some behavioral assessments, maybe a cognitive assessment. Because you can teach someone the skill, but you can't teach someone the behavior.
They need to be careful to make sure they look at the experience, the skills and the behavioral assessments before they ever physically see [the applicants].
How does WAHVE use hiring and placement software to develop age diversity both internally and with your clients who are hiring?