College grads and those under 30 may be struggling to find work in this sour economy, but older workers are apparently in demand by today’s employers. Seniors, it seems, have been making the most headway in the last two years. A recent study by the outplacement consulting firm of Challenger, Gray and Christmas noted that job seekers 55 and over nabbed a hefty 70 percent of all employment growth since January 2010.
When you think about, it doesn’t take an MBA to connect the dots here. Today’s cash-strapped employers want the most bang for the buck. And today’s seniors offer a reservoir of skills and experience employers desperately need after trimming staff to the bone. What’s more, many “over 55ers” are more than eager to get back into the game after being discarded by youth-obsessed companies in the early part of the millennium. Their business savvy and executive acumen are increasingly in demand, far more than today’s crop of new MBAs who bring only erudition and theory to real-world problems. Once regarded as “fossils,” older, experienced workers can “hit the ground running” in most cases, often with just a bit of training in the latest software and systems.
Older managers and supervisors also bring a different work ethic to the job, one often hard to find in today’s crop of younger workers. They’re not looking for the kinds of salaries and perks younger workers want. In general, seniors feel less entitled and have the maturity to realize there are many ways to solve a problem, beyond what they learned in “B school.”
There seems to be a dual tier of older workers. The top tier--those getting hired--are seniors who possess executive and managerial experience and in-demand job skills today’s companies desperately need to stay afloat. In the bottom tier are unemployed seniors who simply have been out of work too long or who lack sufficient managerial skills to compete in today’s workforce.
To improve your odds of getting back into a managerial position as a top-tier senior, take some college courses in the latest computer hardware and software tools. Learn the lingo of today’s business. It also helps to know a foreign language. This can boost your odds as well, since many companies are doing business overseas. Resumes should go back no further than 10 years. In both resume an interview sessions, stress your cost-cutting achievements and rainmaker successes. The goal is to extrapolate how these achievements can work for the prospective employer.
If you’re in the bottom tier and you’ve been out of work for more than two years, you have some serious work to do. You may have to switch careers, retrain yourself, or start near the bottom.
If you’re a tier 1 or tier 2 senior, feel free to add your comments below.