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Myths of Maturity Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Improving the lives of older people through training, community service and employment.

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Myths of Maturity

    • Tuesday, April 20, 2010
  • Improving the lives of older people through training, community service and employment.
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.

Negative Stereotypes

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

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

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

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

  • 72% Most Valuable Employee
  • 69% Better Work Ethic
  • 68% More Reliable
  • 77% More Committed
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

Myth #5

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

  • Be more capable
  • Make better decisions
  • Take less risk and are more cautious
  • Be considered wiser than younger workers
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

Myth #6

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

  • Better perception sets
  • Good attention spans
  • Higher motivation
  • Broader knowledge
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

One constant of the labor market is change. Older workers have already had to accept job related changes such as…

Myth #7 Facts

  • New coworkers
  • Increased workloads
  • New pay scales
  • New supervisors
  • New technologies
  • New policies and rules

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

  • Learned to do a job task differently
  • Learned a new method, system, or process
  • Adapted to a new supervisor
  • Accepted new rules, policies, or procedures
  • Did a different job than the one you were hired for

… and be ready to talk about them in the interview!

Older Workers


Poor Memories

Myth #8

Age isn’t directly linked to memory

Factors that normally affect memory are:

Myth #8 Facts

  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor health
  • Emotional upsets
  • Depression
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

Older Workers

Are More

Accident Prone

Myth #9

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

  • On one hand older workers may have more trouble getting out of the way of flying objects
  • On the other hand older workers may be more cautious in hazardous situations due to experience
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

Older Workers

Cost More to Pay and Cost More to Insure

Myth #10

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

Older Workers

Lack a Future Focus and Have Little or No Career Ambition

Myth #11

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

Older Workers

Have Difficulty with Younger Workers and Team Building

Myth #12

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.

The Challenges

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

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


let us help you
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

Let Us Help You

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.