Mature Job Seekers, tips for their job search

One of the great controversies of 'over qualification' is that people who could go for much higher paying jobs go for lesser jobs. Theories vary: some feel that this is like a paid holiday for experienced people, requiring minimum effort. Others consider that it's a healthier way of staying in the workforce, reducing stress, and allowing better time management.

For mature age workers, it's a curse, and a pretty stupid argument. Older people invariably get work because they need the cash flow. The great myth of 'retirement' is that you can then settle down and vegetate, awash with money and the rest of the middle class Utopia.

It rarely happens that way. Retirement schemes, retirement money, and the superannuation plans designed decades ago often don't measure up to the realities of the present.

Other people downscale for personal reasons. Some people, and not necessarily older workers, downscale because they need the space in their lives, or just some peace. The stress of some jobs is dangerous to people's health, and managing families or lives isn't really that simple.

Among those refused work seemingly because of their level of experience, there are a few theories about why they don't get jobs:

  • Age. To some younger employers, older people are incomprehensible. They find 'motives' for not hiring, because of the level of  experience, which is greater than their own, in many cases.
  • Nepotism, and playing charades in the hiring process, interviewing people with no chance of getting the job, to make up numbers.
  • The hiring culture, which resembles a form of psychoanalysis, rather than having anything to do with the jobs. 
  • The management culture, which slavishly follows whatever new fantasy the hiring culture has dreamed up.

These theories are sometimes true, sometimes not. Actually, mature workers might remember that they sometimes ran into similar situations. They might also remember that some people are so lacking in confidence or ability in their own jobs that as employers, everything, and everyone, is seen as a threat.

The difficulties for hiring older people aren't new.

This is just the current version.

The common factor is that knocking back experienced people who really can do a job does nobody any good.

There's no good reason for refusing to hire someone who can practically guarantee to do a job properly from Day One.

Skills are in short enough supply, globally, in every business, industry and trade.

Here's a few good reasons for hiring highly experienced people:

  • Training new staff in some jobs costs time and money, and adds risks if anything goes wrong, which it invariably does.
  • Younger staff have to move on, and they do. The job goes begging, while the ritual of hiring is repeated. That's cost effective?
  • Older workers generally don't create problems in the workplace. They avoid them, because of experience.
  • The 'fraud group' and 'office infighting' demographic is roughly the mid 20s to 40s age group. That doesn't mean all older workers are saints, but they're rarely involved in that kind of chaos.
  • Career motives are very different for older workers and downscalers. They aren't necessarily competitors, and will naturally make career choices on a different basis, and relatively rarely.
  • Priceless skills, etc', the standard eulogy given to older workers while patronizing them and refusing to hire them, has become a sort of cliche. It must be understood that only older workers have the patience for some jobs, as well as the expertise. The more difficult client service and liaison jobs are a classic example. Older people are better at 'people handling'.
  • Older people are a major market demographic, in all industries, globally. Some younger people simply can't talk to older people, partly because they lack the impression of having enough experience, and sometimes because they really do lack it. They also can't talk to older people on their own level. Unless your entire clientele is under 20, you have a service issue.
  • 'Why someone wants a job' is a fair question. A much more important question is 'Can that person do the job?'
  • There's an element of genuine stupidity in refusing experienced help. An experienced person can tell you when to watch your back, what to look out for, and what the risks are. An inexperienced person will just drive you off the cliff, because they can't read the signs.
  • Experienced people in the workplace can train others on a daily, hourly, second by second basis. Older people, downscalers, and people with expertise, always do a better job of it, because they're there, on site, where their advice is at its most effective.

The reason any job exists is that it needs doing. Time and money is spent creating jobs on the assumption those jobs will be done properly. Why guess?

It doesn't make a lot of sense to avoid the people who can really pin down a job, handle the workloads, and make sure it's all under control.

Think about it.