A friend of mine shared a copy of the AARP Bulletin with me. It featured an article by the organization’s CEO, Jo Ann Jenkins, on the benefits older workers bring to employers. Jenkins moved to AARP after working in government for 25 years. Most people assume such transitions are impossible. Jenkins argues that this is not true. The number of employees in the workforce who are 50+ is growing despite the fact that some employers still practice age discrimination.
Older workers bring a wide range of benefits to employers. The most obvious is experience. However, employers also note that older workers bring reliability and knowledge. They mentor less experienced employees. Jenkins claims that these benefits outweigh any increased costs. She ends her article with these simple but strong words: “Experience adds value.”
Some employers will always want to hire younger workers. Why? They will work for a lower wage, and they will be easier to manipulate. I often tell clients who are worried about age discrimination that it can work in their favor because it will keep them from working for a bad boss or a company that does not want to pay its employees fairly. Any prospective employee – old or young – should be evaluated on their contribution, not their age.
Francine Knowles of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that workers 55 years or older have had more success finding jobs. This trend is also true of workers age 20-24 and those 25-34. This is good news. However, some groups have not been so lucky.
The groups that have seen job loss are 35-54 and teenagers. Teens always suffer during periods of high unemployment. Middle-aged workers are often earning high wages, which motivates employers to lay them off in favor of lower-paid, younger workers.
Overall, the job market is still only ticking up. As I often say, that’s macroeconomics, and it’s important for how we live as a society. For individuals, the unemployment rate is less important. Job churn means that individuals will find job opportunities if they search the right way. Whatever your age, be ready to look for a job and be ready if an employer asks for your resume. When it comes to your career, only two questions matter: Do I have a job? Do I have the kind of job I want? I call that the 100% rule.
Joseph Cech, a piano teacher, died recently at the age of 96. What is more interesting, he taught piano up to two weeks before he died. My friend Carl Easter runs an exterminator business. His mother keeps the business’ book, and she’s 97 years old. I’m making no scientific claims here, but it seems that one secret to a long vibrant life is obvious: Don’t stop working!
P.S. Better still – Find a job you love and never stop loving it.