Busted: 4 Myths About Boomer Job Applicants
They say millennials have a bad rap in the workplace, but the same could be said about applicants over the age of 50. Anecdotal wisdom says this group is tired, outdated, and want a job just to get benefits while they wait to retire. But before you submit to the rumors, consider the facts.
Myth: Older employees lack the energy needed for a growing business.
Fact: Many workers who are 50+ no longer have children at home, meaning that the energy previously spent on family responsibilities can be redeployed in a professional setting. Or they may be looking for a new challenge to engage their talents. Be upfront about the hours you expect and the demands of the job and allow them to decide if they are up for the challenge.
Myth: Older employees are hard to train and resistant to new technologies.
Fact: They may have been slower to adopt new technology, but they’re decidedly on board now. New research shows the majority of baby boomers now owns a smartphone and other connected devices. And if there is a gap, a variety of training resources are now at our fingertips to bring workers up to speed quickly. Lynda.com, Khan Academy, and Coursera offer free or inexpensive courses in a variety of formats. While most workers, young and old, prefer more traditional in-person training, they have mastered the smartphone and other technology with one simple strategy—practice. Screen for necessary technical skills, yes, but don’t think a boomer can’t figure out Trello.
Myth: Older employees want a traditional 9-5 desk job.
Fact: It’s not just millennials who want to work from home. Many workers who are 50+ have a variety of responsibilities outside of work that would make a non-traditional schedule or work environment attractive. Remote work, contract options and alternative schedules may appeal to someone who must attend to, say, an aging parent. Don’t be afraid to consider an alternative option when searching for the right candidate.
Myth: Older employees are just waiting for retirement.
Fact: Research shows that 9 in 10 workers who are over 50 are somewhat or very satisfied with their work. Many older workers are on the job hunt because they want to work, not just because they need the income.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that older employees have a longer tenure at their companies, meaning the majority of older employees are not counting the days until retirement, but instead sticking with their employers even longer than their colleagues from other generations.
“If all your employees basically share the same birth year, that’s not good for innovation and problem solving,” says Chad Parodi, CEO of XMI. “The best companies have diversity not just in gender and race, but in age as well. When you get millennials and boomers and everyone in between together, you gain a much deeper perspective.”
So, the next time someone applies for a role who shows a college graduation date before 1990, give that resume a closer look. Boomers can offer experience, resilience, confidence and a network that can enhance the diversity of your workforce and add value to your company.