This is one of my favourite subjects. Think overqualified, think highly experienced; what’s not to like? It sounds like an outstanding employee and an interim manager to me!
I’m pleased to say in the media and society, the 50+ narrative is changing at last. Thank you so much, Eleanor Mills, Founder of Noon.org, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox and her Elderberries Newsletter, and not forgetting Lyndsey Simpson at 55/redefined; they are all doing great work in this area. And you can read 55/redefined’s report on The Unretirement Uprising here.
So many reasons make over 50’s a great fit for your business. They
- are great value for money
- can hit the ground running
- have seen most eventualities before and
- have immense resilience because of their lifetime of experience.
As the workforce continues to age, overqualified candidates over the age of 50 are making some of the best employees. They bring decades of experience, expertise and knowledge that can bring added value to businesses at various levels.
And with more companies prioritising hiring practices based on potential rather than just skill set matches, these seasoned candidates offer something unique: an edge in creativity, discipline and leadership.
A recent executive coaching client of mine in their sixties secured a role because of experience she had straight out of university. If we hadn’t done the Career Voyage work, the individual wouldn’t have even remembered and certainly wouldn’t have realised how essential it was to her future career plans.
And here is an excellent example of age being just a number. Natasha Cleeve at The Cleeve Partnership Search Firm recently placed a candidate who is 71! You can read more about this story in her post here.
Five Reasons Over 50s Are Amazing
Value for Money
As businesses become increasingly competitive and the cost of labour and production rises, many organisations are turning to employees over 50 to offer value for money. These experienced professionals come with an array of skills, expertise, and knowledge that can be used to help businesses save money and boost profits.
Workers over 50 bring valuable life experience, they’ve made the mistakes before and they can use to make sound decisions to maximise efficiency in the workplace. Furthermore, their knowledge of proven strategies helps create strategic plans to drive business growth. They also understand critical issues such as customer service and budgeting, which allows them to manage costs better than younger employees who are relatively new in terms of their career goals.
This additional experience means you almost always benefit from hiring someone for one role that can support several functions. For example, Alex Butler is a Digital Transformation Director; however, if you were to bring Alex into your business, you’d be getting a branding expert, a EDI leader, female tech talent, an internal comms specialist and an employee engagement guru too.
And Alex mentioned how many have held several senior roles and make excellent trusted advisors as they are much more confident to speak honestly and can often advise on various strategies to make improvements to the business.
The Great Unretirement
So many people have taken early retirement, and frankly, they’re bored. They’ve done some renovations and been on fantastic trips or gap years but need a purpose in life now.
Work brings social connection, structure, financial reward, positive feedback and a sense of belonging. I had a university reunion at the weekend, and everyone was enjoying work and couldn’t be more committed. In some cases, they were upsizing their career as children had left home and caring responsibilities had lessened.
Organisations need to have 2-way conversations with their talent to gauge retirement plans and perhaps job share one individual with another like Netflix. You could incorporate succession planning and phased retirements to promote a culture of learning.
5 Generation Workforce
The 5 generation workforce offers employers a unique opportunity to leverage each generation’s diverse skills and experiences.
Younger generations bring a fresh perspective to the workplace and can introduce technologies that make processes more efficient. Conversely, older generations often possess deep historical knowledge and experience in certain areas and can provide valuable insight that can enhance an organisation’s culture.
Each generation also has access to different social networks, which allows employers to tap into a broader range of talent. Finally, managing a multi-generational workforce can help employers develop better leadership skills while fostering increased inclusion and respect amongst staff members.
Whilst there is clearly a skill shortage regarding technical or digital skills, some of the most in-demand skills are soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, productivity and wellbeing. It no longer makes sense to call them soft skills; they’re essential for the new world of work and should be called POWER SKILLS.
HR leaders and L&D professionals agree these skills give employees power at work. Power to collaborate, power to communicate effectively and power to lead. And those over 50 have accumulated a lifetime of these skills and can offer them in abundance.
Wisdom and Experience
Employees in their 50s have been there, done that and got the t-shirt several times. And that wisdom and experience can head off many costly mistakes at the outset by sharing past learning.
They can support younger team members, and combining experience and modern-day skills can have powerful outcomes.
Psychologist Raymond Cattell first proposed the theory of fluid intelligence vs crystallised wisdom; he further developed it with his student John Horn.
Fluid intelligence increases in your 20s, 30s and 40s but stalls in your 50s. Fluid intelligence involves comprehension, reasoning and problem-solving. Crystallised wisdom increases in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond and consists of recalling stored knowledge and past experiences.
I like to think of it like a library. In your early 20s, your book collection might cover half of one wall, but by your 50s, your books cover almost all four walls; your wisdom is cumulative.
Current Business Attitudes
The CMI surveyed more than 1,000 managers working in UK businesses and public services. It found that just four out of 10 (42%) were open “to a large extent” to hiring people aged between 50 and 64.
We need to start having the age conversation in organisations. A study recently cited young in-house recruiters and young people at recruitment agencies as an issue. Indeed I do remember when I was in my mid-20s and working for a marketing search firm, the thought of a candidate over 40 would seem old to met or even the same age as my parents, so they wouldn’t be considered.
But marketing was so ageist then, which led me to cofound my own interim marketing management provider. In the early 1990s, if you wanted to be an FMCG Senior Brand Manager for a classic brand, you would need to be between 28 and 32. When we set up our company, we were working on interim roles so we could be completely relaxed. And we often found that more experienced interims could work further away from home and more days a week because they didn’t need to worry about a young family. Also, in the recession of the late 80s and early 90s, marketers had become more like procurement managers or accountants, so the market was looking for creative, risk-taking, innovative marketers, and they were, by the nature of the work, older.
If you want to see just how amazing some of these workers are, check out my Courageous Career Conversations as I interview some of the best and brightest over 50s.
Contact Career Voyage at email@example.com
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Sarah started her career in fmcg marketing working as a brand manager on Clover and as an interim manager on Clover (twice) and Quorn. She founded a start-up interim management company in Gloucestershire and that business changed the percentage of women and diverse talent in senior marketing and HR roles. Sarah specialises in attracting, onboarding, developing, engaging and retaining diverse talent into forward thinking businesses to improve productivity, performance and profit. Flexible working and wellbeing play a large part. Since covid-19 wreaked havoc on the job landscape, Sarah has a created an innovative programme to get senior experienced professionals back into work or fine-tune their current role so that it makes happy.