7 Ways To Fish for the Older, Wiser, Better Employee

Photo by Gina BurgessBeing ancient in the over 50 age bracket does not mean it is time to search for good pasture. Unlike this rusted cannon that “guards” the Alabama coastline, the over 50 worker still works and swivels and can still aim in several directions accurately.

Employers often think that younger means more energy and better education, but statistics are proving that the younger generations do not have the wisdom and people-training that the older generations possess. There are numerous other advantages to hiring someone over 50 such as patience, purpose, problem solving, putting square pegs in round holes and vice versa. Young people are not adept at that yet because they don't have the years of experience which affords those skills. There is a lot you can learn from a textbook, but the actual practicing of the principles learned is what brings perfection to the skills.

Last week I was calling about a job opening I found on CareerBuilder.com. I had more experience and better qualifications than required for the position, so I sent my resume thinking it would be received well. In the cover letter, I let To Whom It May Concern know that I would be unavailable that day because of Mom's doctor appointment, but free for phone interview the following day. I also paraphrased my understanding of the job.

I got a terse reply: “Wrong. You would be selling the program. Any other questions you have will have to be addressed in the phone interview.” Then a follow-up phone call stating I must call an 800 number to set up an interview that day. Obviously, the voice belonged to the e-mail author because it was quite caustic in tone. There is quite a lot that can be inferred from this 5-minute slice of life. The person who was so caustic either did not like her job, or she is untrained in her job. I would be willing to stake a 20-ounce steak on it that this employee is 18-25 years old and believes that she it was a huge favor by God that she was conceived. It also says a huge amount about the company.

The company responded promptly enough but did not pay any attention to what I had said. I wrote about something similar to this back in 2006 after five months of job hunting. Things have not changed at all. What has happened to integrity, courtesy, and human kindness?

The experience of an employee is very much worth the paycheck. You literally do get what you pay for.

Here is some advice for employers who are searching for excellent employees:

1.  Rejection is crushing. Call the applicant to set up an interview. Letters indicate rejection before they are even opened. Never send a letter to set up an interview.

2.   Return e-mails. Resist the temptation to prolong suspense. This is only good in excellent novels and is not appreciated by the applicant. Don't keep us wiggling on the hook. Either throw us back or put us in the keeper pile.

3.  If you want a phone interview, then set a time and follow through. Why ask for a phone interview and then never respond after that?

4.  Before you toss your hook in the water, make sure you know what kind of fish…er, applicant you need and don't be afraid to be specific. That saves a lot of wasted time and energy for both of us. Never put higher qualifications than the job needs, because you'll get responses that do not match your job opening.

5.  If your “opportunity” is MLM (Multi-Level Marketing), for goodness sakes say so. Offer all the particulars up front and quit the hems, haws and coaxings. It wastes too much time. (I know this because I was a Director for an MLM). No one wants to spend 30 minutes on a long-distance phone call if they don't know what the product is.

6. I love the “if you are still interested” response. It kicks! Tell me what you are looking for, how much it pays, your precise expectations and then tell me, “If you are still interested _________.” That is the best time saver ever.

7. In your online questionaire that checks to see if the company and the applicant are compatible, cover the basics and leave the psychological probing to those qualified to read between the lines in phone interviews or face-to-face interviews. There are just some answers tha require in-depth explanation.

I do not know an older person who would not sacrifice a few dollars from their annual salary in order do something really interesting 8am-5pm, Mon-Fri. We are established, we are mature enough to make good decisions, we've been trained in people skills, and we have a lot to offer. Play to that. It will absolutely be worth your while.

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