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I just finished reading an article about the disadvantages or “objections” of hiring a Baby Boomer (Top 5 Unspoken Objections To Hiring A Baby Boomer). And, while I do agree that some Baby Boomers do exhibit the 5 “objections”, I believe that this is the exception and not the rule. I do feel there are many reasons/advantages of hiring Baby Boomers.
There will always be trials, tribulations, and risks with hiring people. Whether the individual is straight out of one of the best schools, has been working for 30 years, or comes highly regarded, issues can and do arise due to personality traits or the challenges fitting into a different corporate culture. Does any generational group corner the market on “the best generation to work with” or “don’t hire from this generation”? I highly doubt it. Ensuring you have a robust hiring process helps minimize (but never eliminates) issues when recruiting talent.
Over the Hill But Not the Cliff is a straightforward and practical guide that job seekers 50+ can use to not only survive in the modern workplace, but thrive.
I felt somewhat obligated to write the flip side of the “5 objections to hiring Baby Boomers”, but rather than going point/counterpoint I wanted to convey some of what I feel are true advantages to hiring very experienced individuals. To put it all in perspective, every age group (High School grads to Grandpas) has individuals who are not exactly “hirable” or just don’t fit in (see 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You).
Experience is Priceless
Much of what determines how valuable we are in the marketplace depends on experience, skillset and ability. Baby Boomers possess an amazing amount of experience, knowledge, and insight based on decades of working their way up from the bottom. Many typically occupy (or have occupied) the most senior positions in a company. This level of experience is difficult to come by and, no matter how smart you are, a lifetime of experience can add real value.
They Know the Meaning of Hard Work
Let’s face it, Baby Boomers are incredibly hard workers. In fact, most of us don’t want to work the way Baby Boomers did in their early careers. The flip side is that they work well under pressure, are tenacious and when push comes to shove (urban dictionary), they will get the job done.
They Have an Amazing List of Connections
One advantage of working a really long time is that you get to meet lots of people in your career. Some of these people may not be worth remembering, but “knowing someone who knows someone” has real advantages. Whether it be finding great talent or a vendor that can deliver the right solution for your business, there is nothing more powerful than having a large experienced network at your fingertips.
They are Not Afraid to Tell You What You May Not Want to Hear
There is a delicate balance between being outspoken, obnoxious or a complainer and most of us have worked with all three types of people. Getting the real story, no matter how ugly it may be, has tangible benefits. Baby Boomers are not afraid to tell you the pros and cons of most situations. Much of what they have to say comes from real-life experiences. Hearing the bad news beats being blind-sided any day of the week.
They Grew Up with the Technology That Drives Our Businesses
There is a view (rightly or wrongly) that “older people” (namely Baby Boomers) cannot use technology. While Baby Boomers may not know the latest smartphone app (or may not be the best at using a smartphone), their generation invented the technology we all use. Whether it be the world of Windows or Macs, without Baby Boomers like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (RIP) we would still be using IBM Keypunch cards (you will need to look that one up yourself).
The point is, we all get hung up with stereotypes of all shapes, sizes, and ages. And while stereotypes could not exist if not for the very people they are modeled after, stereotypes are the exception, not the rule. We get fixated on stereotypes because they loom so large even though they are a tiny fraction of the overall population.
Don’t get fixated on age or generation (or any other defining trait that may impact your hiring process). Just try to hire the best person for the job regardless of the stereotypical shadow that looms over us all.