Older job applicants have edge

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Here's good news for two kinds of job hunters: those who are older and those who have had a run-in with the law.

Both groups have a better chance of getting hired than you might think, according to surveys.

Let's start with the mature worker, who is three times more likely to be hired over a younger or millennial worker, 60 percent of hiring managers said.

Why? Out of 500 hiring managers who were surveyed, Adecco's survey showed that 91 percent are most likely to associate mature workers with reliability, and 88 percent associate them with professionalism.

Far fewer mature workers need to improve their writing skills compared to millenials (born from 1980 to 2000), hiring managers said.

On the other hand, 74 percent of hiring managers said millennial workers are creative, and 73 percent said they are strong networkers. Seventy-two percent thought mature workers need more technological know-how.

“Plenty of jobs will be created from now until 2030, and the odds are good that many of the positions will be taken by older Americans,” Chris Farrell wrote recently in Bloomberg Businessweek.

The trend of staying in the workforce later in life took hold about two decades ago, he says, and this work-longer mindset “reflects a number of fundamental factors that aren't about to dissipate.”

More employers also may understand the competitive advantage of hiring mature workers.

Farrell cites the 2010 Harvard Business Review article, “How BMW is Defusing the Demographic Time Bomb.” The company conducted an experiment at a German plant introducing “70 small – mostly ergonomic – changes, such as adding barbershop chairs so workers can perform tasks sitting down or standing up and orthopedic shoes for comfort.”

The result: An investment of $50,000 increased productivity by 7 percent, bringing the assembly line “on a par with lines in which workers were, on average, younger,” the article said.

In other words, he says productivity matters more than demographics.

As for hiring someone with a criminal record, a new study from CareerBuilder says companies are open to giving people second chances. Fifty-one percent of the 2,000 human resource managers interviewed reported that their organizations have hired someone with a criminal record.

The key: Be honest.

More than two-thirds of hiring managers say be truthful about a conviction, how it affected you and what you learned from it.

And while incarcerated, take classes and earn degrees and get vocational training. Help an employer see that you're willing to work your way up and that you're motivated.

Do you have to be older than 50 to be seen as reliable and professional with strong writing skills? Not necessarily.

But take a serious look at what such surveys tell you – the kind of workers that companies desire most.

That includes professionals who can be counted on, can think clearly and communicate effectively; people who are motivated and will help a company be productive.

You can't just mouth those words in interviews. You have to actually do it and be it.

Email andrea@andreakay.com.

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