"When most employers talk about diversity, they're rarely talking about age." So says Gary Phelan, speaking on behalf of Outten and Golden, an employment law firm in New York. He was responding to the assertion that people older than 50 have a much harder time finding a job than those under 50.
Phelan is right if you go just on the numbers. In 2006, it took the average worker age 55+ some 22 weeks to find a job, compared to 16 weeks those those under 55. What's more, candidates under 40 were 50 percent more likely to get called in for interviews. So, what's up with that?
Apparently, many employers assume that Boomers and Matures will be 1) too expensive; 2) overqualified; 3) not technologically as astute as younger workers; and 4) more likely to use health benefits and, eventually, retirement benefits. Like anything else in this world, those are generalities, though, and not all will bear out with each worker who happens to have inhabited the earth for five or more decades.
Shortsighted companies fail to acknowledge that by 2014, there will be an overall increase in employment of 17 million and 11 million of those potential workers will be 55+. Seems like it would be a good idea to start embracing the Boomers and think more about what they offer and less about what they might not.
For instance, studies show we Boomers are, generally speaking, more dedicated to our work, and we bring experiences and perspectives younger workers simply can't offer. Moreover, it turns out that because we're more likely to be health conscious than previous generations, we're relatively healthy and we have fewer dependents who rely on the company health plan.
According to the AARP, 80% of Boomers plan to work past retirement, so the opportunity for companies to take advantage of the wisdom and experience of Boomers is unprecedented.
The way I see it, Boomers looking for work need to learn how to make their past experience relevant to a company's current needs. Meanwhile, companies need to consider the impending labor shortage, especially in certain areas like nursing, and be more open to the idea of hiring outside "the norm."
In short, sometimes we all call the world dirty, when in fact we just forgot to clean our glasses.