Myths of Maturity Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Improving the lives of older people through training, community service and employment.
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What negative stereotypes exist about older workers that are not true of most seniors? There’s no denying age discrimination sometimes still exists in the workplace.
Older workers are slow, less productive, and aren’t quality conscious.
Robert Half Employment Agency says older workers are more conscientious and hard working than their younger counterparts
Bureau of Business Management rates older worker quality orientation “excellent” 82% of the time and rates their job performance “excellent” 71% of the time
NCA survey found 97% of employers with older workers think they are thorough and reliable
Myth #1 Facts
Show any production and performance quality awards or achievements in your resume, application and cover letter
Bring a good performance appraisal with you to the interview to show how you met production and quality standards
If the interviewer doesn’t do it, bring up your production rates, how you met deadlines and quality standards… and link it to the job you are seeking
Myth #1 Counters
Older Workers are Sick More Often
NCA survey found 94% of employers with older workers say they didn’t miss work because of illness
Andrus Gerontology Center found that workers over the age of 45 have a lower rate of sick time than workers between the ages of 17-44
Myth #2 Facts
If you received awards for attendance make sure the employer sees it in your paperwork
Stress the fact you’re reliable, dependable, and feel a commitment to the employer and your coworkers to show up and do a good job
Myth #2 Counters
Older Workers Have a Higher Turnover Rate
NCA and the National Assn. of Working Women found that mature men and women have an 88% lower turnover rate than younger workers
BLS states that older workers stay on the job twice as long as workers between the age of 25-34
Myth #3 Facts
Stress your loyalty, commitment, and dedication to prior employers
Indicate a strong desire to continue contributing to a company and providing for your family
Don’t even mention the “R” word (Retirement)
Myth #3 Counters
Older Workers Are Less Competent
The average age for top spots in a company has continued to increase over the past ten years
A 2002 SHRM survey rated older workers highly:
Myth #4 Facts
Be prepared to present how you’ve advanced in your previous positions
Present how and why you received merit raises, promotions, and bring up your increased levels of job responsibilities
Myth #4 Counters
Older Workers Are Less Capable of Evaluating Information, Making Decisions, and Solving Problems
Time has forced older workers to successfully evaluate more information, solve tougher problems, and make more critical job
related decisions than most younger workers
Older workers tend to:
Myth #5 Facts
Identify problems you’ve solved, situations you’ve overcome, or decisions you’ve made on prior jobs
Be ready to show how your decisions helped the company, your coworkers, or customers in your resume and cover letter, and discuss during the interview
Be ready to demonstrate the steps you take o the process you follow when you have to make a critical decision or solve a problem
Myth #5 Counters
Older Workers Are Less Intelligent, Have Trouble Learning New Things and Are Weak in Computer Skills
Harvard Medical School points out that I.Q. doesn’t decline with age and the mind doesn’t atrophy… unless you don’t use your brain
Dr. Eleanor Simon states older workers retain information longer and tend to complete training at a higher rate than younger workers
An NCA survey found that 81% of older workers say they want to learn new things
Older workers have:
Myth #6 Facts
Sign up for computer training to show employers you’re already in the information age
Take coursework/training that supports your entry into the job for which you’re applying
Present work related examples of when you learned to operate a new piece of equipment, use a new technology or different methodology
Talk about on the job training you’ve successfully completed
Make sure you put an email address on your resume
Myth #6 Counters
Older Workers Are Rigid and Inflexible and Have Trouble Adapting to Change
One constant of the labor market is change. Older workers have already had to accept job related changes such as…
Myth #7 Facts
An NCA survey points out that 85% of employers with older workers say the workers are open to and adapt to change very well
Show your flexibility by being open to different shifts, relocation, travel, job responsibilities, etc.
Make a list of the times you’ve…
Myth #7 Counters
… and be ready to talk about them in the interview!
Age isn’t directly linked to memory
Factors that normally affect memory are:
Myth #8 Facts
Have all the necessary information the employer needs with you when applying for work (licenses, certifications, application form information including dates and phone numbers)
Be organized, accurate, detailed, and logical when presenting information on your resume, cover letter, or any other employment forms you may have to complete
Myth #8 Counters
The Jury is still out on this one.
One survey indicates that older workers have fewer accidents and that the accidents they have are different than the accidents a younger worker has:
Myth #9 Facts
If you have a good safety record make sure the employer sees this in your job search tools (resume, cover letter, skill summary, etc.)
Be ready to present anything you’ve done to improve safety on prior jobs
Identify any safety courses you’ve completed
Be ready to address any Workers Comp. claims
Myth #9 Counters
Cost More to Pay and Cost More to Insure
True… sort of!
But 90% of Fortune 400 bosses feel that the ROI on hiring mature workers is high and the cost is offset by their quality, performance, retain ability, and other virtues
There is some conflict with information on insurance – Some studies show that the most costly person to insure is a 30-year old with two dependents. Another shows that 80% of mid/larger sized employers say there’s no significant difference in insurance costs.
Some other surveys show that smaller companies consider this a critical negative factor
Myth #10 Facts
Talk bottom-line savings during the interview… less training time, lower turnover rate, higher quality
Show how you will be of immediate value to the company in your resume and cover letter by stressing your past work related successes
Identify problems you can solve for the employer… this requires you do some research in advance… and talk about them during the interview
Spend time learning how to negotiate for higher pay and better job satisfaction (“You Can Negotiate Anything” by Herb Cohen, $7.99 on Amazon)
Myth #10 Counters
Lack a Future Focus and Have Little or No Career Ambition
Most older workers are just as interested in upward mobility, raises, and promotions as anyone else
Older workers are often thought to work just to keep busy. New data does NOT support this – more details later. Most are working for the same reason younger people work… to make money to pay bills and improve the quality of their lives
Some older workers need reduced or flexible hours… many employers prefer part time workers who will take evening or weekend hours.
Myth #11 Facts
Be ready to show a solid rationale for seeking a new job or changing careers in your cover letter and have an immediate, mid-range, and long-term career objective to show your career orientation
Negotiate for more responsibility, training, and cross-training that puts you on a faster career track
Don’t let the employer get the idea you’re just working to supplement your Social Security income!
Myth #11 Counters
Have Difficulty with Younger Workers and Team Building
Get real! This is one of the most obvious myths about older workers… especially if they’ve had children. Parents have been involved with young people for at least 18 years!
Most older workers have lived through Demming’s management model of using self-directed work teams and have learned the value of collaboration
Older workers can set a great example as a role model for younger workers with their experience, great work ethic and dedication
Myth #12 Facts
Have examples of how you’ve collaborated with or been supervised or trained by younger workers. (Or, if you’re a man, show examples of supervision by women.)
Talk about the value of everyone pulling together and teamwork and stress the value of “We’re all in this together and there’s no “I” in the word team.”
Myth #12 Counters
Age discrimination is only one of the challenges facing seniors in the workplace today.
In August 2009, there were 1.97 million unemployed workers age 55 plus, and increase of 69% since August 2008.
This is the highest unemployment rate for this age group since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tabulating data in 1948.
A Historic Crisis
A recent study showed most older job seekers have been looking for work more than six months, and 49% have been on a job search for more than a year.
46% of these low-income unemployed workers need to find jobs so they don’t lose their homes or apartments.
A Serious Situation
Reasons for Working Now
73% of older workers agree or strongly agree their age (negative stereotypes) makes it more difficult for them to compete for jobs with younger people
79% agree or strongly agree employers prefer younger workers
Other reasons cited were the tough economy and lack of necessary training in up to date job skills
Working together we can
overcome negative stereotypes and address the economic crisis currently faced by older workers
To learn more, call us at
Or visit our website
WIZARD OF WORK, Dick Gaiither Job Search Training Systems, Inc. Adapted from NBEW, SHRM, NCA Prime Time Worker Report & BLS articles, surveys and research report.