Remove Ageism: Highly Experienced Professionals and Why It Pays to Hire Them

Ageism can blind our views and limit perspective - pictured as w

“Find me an up-and-comer—someone not too seasoned.” If I had a dime for every time I have heard this! It’s a common client ask in our world, the world of recruiting and executive search. Clients often don’t realize that they are framing their talent needs in a shroud of exclusivity rooted in ageism. We use this as a teaching opportunity here at Goodwin because let’s face it—clients don’t mean to be discriminatory. They often don’t even realize it is against the law for recruiters to target candidates based on age.

Clients are trying to relay that they want someone young enough not to demand too high a salary and who will be around for a while—and someone old enough, where they bring relevant experience to justify the recruiting fee while also succeeding.

Here is why asking for a targeted age range is not conducive to an educated hiring practice: 

1. Not many people look for a new challenge while planning to leave the workforce.

The thing is, most everyone, whether just entering the workforce or having been in it for 30+ years, when they take on new jobs, they expect to be there for a while. Hardly anyone (that I have met) comes to us to find them a full-time position to last them the next year only.

2. Younger workers often have a shorter tenure than older workers.

According to the US Department of Labor and listed in a recent press release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “younger workers were more likely than older workers to be short-tenured employees. For example, in January 2020, only 10 percent of workers ages 55 to 64 were considered short-tenured employees.”

3. Often, the impact can mean as much, or more, than the salary.

It is often a myth that older workers will require a higher salary. Many want an opportunity to make an impact or add value through mentorship and leadership by experience, and what they are bringing home is less important.

4. Retirement plans vary WIDELY.

People are living longer and retiring later in life. A 60-year-old employee could have 10+ more years in the workforce.

5. Lifelong learning is a real thing for many looking for a new challenge.

Another myth is that older workers will be behind with technology or that they will not be “coachable” to learn. Research shows that older Americans are indeed open to continuing education and learning what it will take to get the job done. According to The Grantmakers in Aging, “the older adult population is on track to double in size by 2050, and many older people seek opportunities for lifelong learning and continuing education, both for personal enrichment and continued career relevance.” There are platforms available now, many free-of-charge, that allow older workers to learn new skills.

What you should be asking: 

1. How much does it cost us NOT to have the right person in place? Without even knowing a corporation’s specific answer, we can assure you, for executive levels and beyond, it is far more than a recruitment fee.

2. Is not having the right person in place going to risk burnout on existing employees who are carrying the weight?

3. Just as no corporation in 2021 wants to have an entire staff comprised of one race or gender, what does it show about our company’s diversity and inclusion prioritization to only have staff in the 25-45 age bracket?

4. Are we truly seeking out the best person for the role, or are we looking more for what we feel will align best with a younger environment, which we mistakenly perceive to be the “culture?”

5. What are our own unconscious hiring biases?  Are we willing to self-analyze to learn how we can grow and improve?

Goodwin stands against ageism.

With equal opportunity employment laws, recruiters are committed to focusing on diverse candidate hiring strategies that seek out the most qualified candidates regardless of gender, race, religion, handicap, or sexual orientation. While that is of paramount importance, let us not forget age. With over 20 years in the business and recognized as one of Forbes “America’s Best Recruiting Firms 2020”, Goodwin Recruiting remains staunchly dedicated to diversity and inclusion on all levels and ready to assist you in finding the very best talent for your organization.