According to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts report, people over age 55 have it the worst when it comes to unemployment, with more than 43% having been out of work a year or more — the highest rate of any age group.
This suggests that employers are more likely to hire a younger job applicant than an older one. Many recruiters and hiring managers may see older candidates as less of an asset simply because of salary requirements, health issues and other perceived liabilities.
But age has it’s benefits, especially when it comes to experience and having a strong, well-developed foundation of knowledge and skills. Here are four assets senior professionals bring to the table simply because of years of experience and seniority:
Problem Solving: At age 50 or over, there are few challenges they have not faced, or solutions they have not considered or tried. They’ve learned what action steps work best for certain situations, and what don’t. Because of this experience, they are now able to solve business problems faster than many young job seekers. They oftentimes can more quickly identify the important drivers impacting underperformance and the best solutions to shorten the time required to improve sales and profit results.
People Management: Many have learned that people are a company’s most valuable asset. It is a given that companies with the best people usually perform the best. Knowing that, they have discovered over time how to quickly assess who should stay and who should go, and how to make those who stay even better. They have helped other workers to strengthen their innate abilities, make more informed decisions, and work more effectively with others on a team.
Judgment: Good judgment is a highly valued trait for all successful executives. Companies now demand it. The extensive business experience of a senior professional enables you to make better decisions across a broad array of alternative courses of action. From who to fire and who to hire, to where to cut and where to spend, they are often in a better position to make these important decisions than younger executives because they have faced and made more of them.
Leadership: As few executives are born leaders, this ability takes time to develop. At an older age, senior professionals will most likely have more proven leadership experience than those younger. They’ve had the opportunity to lead teams, initiate new programs and projects, spearhead a company’s shift to a new direction, or motivate peers to aggressive goals.
Tucker Mays and Bob Sloane are principals of OptiMarket L.L.C., an executive job search coaching firm they co-founded in 2001 to help executives over 50 find their next job in the shortest time possible. Tucker and Bob have also co-authored the book Fired at 50: How to Overcome the Greatest Executive Job Search Challenge (OptiMarket; $14.95).