My New Year’s Wish: That Recruiters Resolve to Hire Older Workers in 2019

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I HAVE NEVER MET my fellow Fistful of Talent blogger Rachel Bitte, but her recent post on the big changes recruiters had to make (2018 Was the Tipping Point For Recruiting) to deal with “the current job market reality,” tells me she knows her way around a recruiting department.

I’m also sure her insights are spot on for recruiters and hiring managers dealing with 90 percent of the job seekers and potential hires out there.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t include candidates like me.

I’m one of those “older workers” you keep hearing about who aren’t quite ready to retire yet can’t seem to find meaningful work where they can make a difference by leveraging their skills and a lifetime of experience.

5% of the workforce is 55 plus and wants a new job

Despite having a job market where there are “more job openings posted than people to fill them,” as Rachel put it, there are “nearly 2.1 million Americans who are out of work, working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job, or have stopped looking because they don’t think anyone will hire them,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ also notes that “another 5.8 million Americans — or 23 percent of full-time, year-round workers ages 55 and older — are employed in what economists describe as ‘bad jobs’ that offer no health benefits and typically pay poorly.”

In other words, in a U.S. workforce of about 160 million people, 8 million workers, or 5 percent of the workforce, either can’t find a decent job or are plodding along in one they hate and want to find something a whole lot better.

This is why I bristle when I read that “job seekers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to hiring,” because for some reason, older job seekers can’t even get in the car.

But here’s the point that Rachel Bitte made that got my attention. She argued that the drive to hire people with good “culture fit” has gotten out of hand. Culture fit, she said, really needs to take a backseat to experience and performance.

Wanted: Actual experience and overall performance

Well, I say “Amen!” to that.

She put it like this:

“Last year, I described the unexpected hiring downsides that can come from a warped view of ‘culture fit.’ Those downsides focused on what can happen when recruiters overlook candidates’ job-relevant skills and past work history for people they’d like to hang out with more.

Fortunately, this tough job market has forced recruiters to correct here somewhat. Every hire is becoming more important as recruiters expect to make less of them in the coming year — we are seeing less emphasis placed on traits such as personal style and sense of humor — and more on the behaviors that form a successful workforce, such as actual experience and overall performance. …

According to our Jobvite survey, the need for strong conversational skills and enthusiasm has decreased among recruiters by more than 20 percent across the board as compared to last year. That means successful recruiters today are not only prioritizing new ways to engage with candidates, but also putting a bigger premium on the hard skills and performance metrics that will ultimately make the difference and move the needle for their companies.”

A New Year’s resolution that’s not hard to keep

All of this talk about a new recruiting focus on skills, experience, and performance begs the question: When will recruiters and TA professionals figure out that older workers might be the answer (or at least a part of the answer) to their candidate problems?

Here’s a good answer to that.

Recruiters need to resolve to alter their approach in 2019. A change in recruiting tactics that includes taking a good look at older candidates, needs to be part of the TA mix in 2019 and it would be great if all recruiters, hiring managers, and talent acquisition pros put this at the top of their resolutions for the New Year.

Not every older worker looking for a better job is the answer, of course, but there’s a good chance that a number of those 8 million looking for something better can fill some of your job openings — and they’ll bring skills and experience that your organization will benefit from.

I know that’s true in my case.

People who know me are surprised that someone with my deep experience and skills can’t seem to find a decent job, but I’m making my own New Year’s resolution to find that organization that will truly appreciate all that I bring to the table.

I know there’s somebody, somewhere out there that can really use all I have to offer. Here’s hoping that we find each other in this New Year.

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