Finding workers for your business is harder than ever. According to June 2018 article from CNN Business, There are now more job openings than workers to fill them. With unemployment nationally around 3.8% and here in Wisconsin at 2.8% business owners and leaders are struggling to find workers. I find this issue to be profound and troubling. The reason, purely anecdotal but I feel a well-qualified anecdotal, is that I communicate weekly with a lot of unemployed highly skilled workers around the US. To a person, they tell me they can’t get hired. These workers all have one thing in common; they are very experienced people over the age of 50. And…you aren’t hiring or considering hiring them because of your limiting beliefs
Now before I go any further let me confess something…I too am over 50. I have heard the “overqualified” or better yet the “while your background and experience is outstanding we have decided to pursue those candidates who more appropriately meet our requirements.” Many times. Now I freely admit sometimes that is legitimate, for example when a mechanic applies to be a CFO. More often than not the reasoning is based on ill-conceived beliefs.
I will illustrate using an example from a friend of mine, age 59 and an unemployed CFO. Last full-time job – 2008. Currently, he Consults, legitimately and not a space holder on a resume. He doesn’t want to relocate. He can reasonably commute 1-way up to an hour. He has worked for companies as large as 1.2B, the smallest, $600M. He applies for Controller, Director of Finance and similar jobs in his home state. Most have been with companies under $250M in sales. He gets a lot of those rejection letters stating “…more appropriately meet our requirements.” In a couple of cases, he followed up by calling the company to identify who they hired. Using sites like LinkedIn, he reviewed their credentials and background. His were shall we say well beyond the person hired.
“When a company is looking for… a CFO with 10+ year’s experience why is one with 25+ years of experience undesirable?”
Now many Company Leaders believe that over hiring someone is wrong; over hiring being when you hire someone way overqualified for the role. As a result of that limiting belief, they never consider these individuals. I think they are harming their company more than they can imagine.
Let’s start with the obvious. Many people do not want to retire because, 1) they can’t financially, and 2) they enjoy working and having a purpose. As a result, we are going to have a lot of highly skilled people in the workplace or trying to get into the workplace for quite awhile. In many cases, like my friend, these individuals don’t care if they are the top person in the company. Most of them have been there, have the scars and don’t want to return. They want to add value and contribute. They add significant value. Take, for example, that new first time CFO. They have a Director or Controller under them, senior in years and experience who has been a CFO. What a wonderful and productive partnership.
When a company is looking for, using my friend, a CFO with 10+ year’s experience why is one with 25+ years of experience undesirable? Why hire a 12+ year experienced person when someone with 25+ is available that you never bothered to interview because you knew (believed because you rarely check) and here it comes they are too old, make too much money, or wants too much money. I know professionals who are making 25% of what they used to that are in love with the job that pays them at that level. They are strong contributors too.
“…have a Director of Controller under them, senior in years and experience who has been a CFO. What a wonderful and productive partnership.”
So where is all of this going? Simply put, when listing experience requirements, for example, 10-15 years, 7-10 years, you seriously limit the opportunity for a strong value-added candidate for your open position. Maybe when all is said and done the one with 25 years isn’t a good fit because of something other than experience and age. Maybe they tell you they are looking for a job till something bigger comes around. Maybe you are someone whose background they don’t like. Who knows? But using a value-added destroying limiting belief that these experienced workers over 50, or 60, or even 70 are not good for your company, is a fool’s errand.
Several years ago I hired, for a client company, a 78-year-old man as a Field Sales Rep. The man is still there, is the top producer and the company now dominates in a territory he sells in where they were barely noticeable before.
I would start thinking differently and look outside of those narrow boxes many business owners and leaders have created for hiring criteria. I would suggest that having the very best person in each role in your business is better than simply saying that at some point you are no longer right for this role.