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So many jobs, so few people
Workers over age 55
by Darrell Smith

Coming in to 2022 the residual effects of Covid-19 are still with us. Among many economic issues plaguing the country, persistent supply chain problems persist and hordes of people are finding ways of not returning to work so employers can't find job applicants, much less qualified job applicants.

If the unemployment numbers and the economy return to its pre-Covid19 status it will mean the continuation of having more jobs out there than there are people to fill them. In a normal job market, job seekers over the age of 55 aren't normally welcomed with open arms, outside of menial part-time work. And unfortunately, in some cases HR people regard job applicants in their late 40's as too old. It's more of a personal attitude of those in the hiring process and not necessarily a matter of company policy - not on the record anyway.

Why is that? Why does the attitude prevail?

I've been a real estate broker and in the mortgage industry for the last thirty years and have come in contact with people from all walks of life, age and income status. I hear stories and am compelled to comment on deserving subjects - this is one of them.

What particularly stands out are stories about employers' negative experiences in the last twenty years or so concerning the undependability of new hires - those that show up to work intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics, employees that steal, are trouble makers and discontent in the work place or don't show up at all. Not to mention the overwhelming number that want to sue over a myriad of ills they and their lawyers have defined as unsafe or unhealthy or unwelcoming to their "comfort" pig. Now of course there are exceptions to everything but I believe you know what is being said here - and no, not everybody is bad, not everybody is lazy or out to get you but the actions of a growing number of people can make life's course more difficult than it should. The behavior creates barriers, promotes prejudices and complications especially for those over fifty years old and looking for employment.

Older worker shows younger worker

Employers have seen it all, or think they have and now they can't find people that want jobs. Simply stated, employers need to get their product or service to market and they need people to do that. Yes, it is increasingly difficult to cull through the limited pool of applicants that sometimes have little education or little experience and, in some cases overly fabricated resumes. Given an employer's experience with this revolving process one can understand their frustration.

So, it begs the question, is there still, in this day and time and tight job market, a predilection to not consider an applicant in their late 50's or older?

If you are in a position to hire, consider this - if someone with a little gray hair shows up at your door looking for work, meaningful work, it means they need to work, they want to work and earn a paycheck. It should be a given they'll show up on time and the chances are good they'll show up without all that baggage you've been dealing with for all these years.

It must be said that a small percentage of applicants in this age category may too, in their youth behaved like some of those you've had to deal with in recent years. I would place money that most of them are over it - it's out of their system, they've dealt with it, they've learned from it and have grown. Most people I know personally tell me they have learned from their past errors. Although highly personal in definition, self-redemption is a powerful force and usually comes with maturity.

older woman working

As a matter of opinion they may even be able to teach you a thing or two about overcoming what life sometimes throws at you. It's that proverbial situation where you picked yourself up, dusted the dirt off and moved on. "Okay Mr. Smith, some have gotten over issues, many have experience I wish I had but what about health and longevity? I'm looking for a career employee. If I hire someone in their 60's they won't be able to work very long and I'd have to turn around and hire someone to take their place."

Younger employees move up and on all the time and need replacing at every promotion so if your 60-year-old new hire leaves in 6-10 years you've most likely come out ahead in many ways.

You may also spend much less time and hassle in dealing with the craziness you are forced to deal with now. Is less down-time and more productivity worth anything? Isn't dependability what you are looking for anyway? If you have to fill two or three positions in the next few years isn't that better than hiring ten people for the same few job slots?

I think there are far more job options available today than just fast food, Wal-Mart greeter, or restaurant host. But many so-called senior citizens seldom search beyond that because of the misconception about hiring in their age range.

If you are a seasoned citizen now is the time to look for something better, more fulfilling and rewarding. Some companies have recognized the mother-lode of potential employees out there years ago and have opened their doors to seniors. Many have not.

Older worker at laptop

Here are some things to consider regarding Seniors: At this point in a senior's life, they are generally not job-hopping or aggressively looking to advance a career. You'll probably experience less office politics and back stabbing and you may be surprised how tech savvy and engaged they are as well. Don't risk passing over people that possess decades of experience and know the ins and outs of many professional job duties and could probably teach a college grad a thing or two, or a thousand. You don't have to be a member of a union to bring journeyman or master level education and experience to the table. Now, do certain positions require a higher level of specialized education, of course they do, but we're discussing the exceptions. They are plentiful and they are out there.

Yes Boss, you're still going to have to screen and run back ground checks and all that but the guy or gal knocking on your door with more life experience than you just might be what you've been looking for. And, you just might get that someone that cares about what you care about - their appearance for one and being dependable and reliable and the utilization of their skills and experiences to perform as expected or better than even you Mr. or Miss. Smarty Pants could ever imagined.

As the economy moves forward the job market could very well get tighter. I would suggest you put the phone in your pocket and look up because that special employee you're looking for might be saying hello to you as you enter Wal-Mart.

By Darrell Smith

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