I woke up this morning with the same neck pain that’s been plaguing me for two weeks. I developed the pain when I was toweling off after a shower and WHAM, it felt like someone stuck a knife in my neck. Sometimes life sucks getting older.
I may be getting older, but I’m not too humble to say I’m good at what I do. I get to work early and often leave late. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m driving my kids around town almost every night, I’d probably take on another job. I like working and know many people my age who do as well.
So I wonder why some companies are downright ignorant and won’t hire mature workers like me. Don’t they realize we have a wealth of experience and a truckload of accomplishments, not to mention life experience that allows us to handle small problems our teenagers can’t? Don’t they know mature workers want to work?
One of my favorite workshops that I lead is called Mature Worker. In this workshop we laugh, kvetch, and sometimes cry about our unemployment status. What we wonder is why employers don’t see the value we bring to the table. Yeah we have experience that younger workers don’t, but we have much more:
- We can party. That’s right; we can party with the best of them. We just don’t do it the night before work and especially the night preceding a trade show.
- We are dependable. Did you ever notice who’s always at work and always on time? That’s us. We don’t have the responsibilities we once had when we attended school events, stayed home during snow days, and tended to our children when they were sick.
- We have better taste in music. Lady Gaga? AC/DC, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and U2 are more our style.
- We’ve been there done that. We’ve made our share of mistakes; and unless we’re total morons, we don’t repeat them. This speaks to our life experience.
- We have no life. Well, that’s not totally true. When my daughter comes home for college break, I see her maybe three hours at most. We’re less likely to come in with a hangover is a better way to put it.
- We can still talk on the phone. Our interpersonal skills are exceptional, because we aren’t texting all the time like our kids are.
- We know technology. Case in point, a 60+ year-old jobseeker told our Mature Worker group that he had saved his former company considerable time when he reduced a process from 60 minutes to 6 minutes by converting a program from Java to C++.
- We work smarter, not harder. “Done right the first time” has real meaning with the mature worker. Let others work at break-neck speed and repeat their actions; don’t take our focus and steady work as being slow.
- We’re great at customer service. We’ve waited in line at Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and other places where cashiers were distracted by their coworkers of the opposite gender. We realize how important it is to satisfy the customer.
- We’re confident in our skills. We know we can lead projects, coordinate teams of 25 people, run a global marketing campaign, etc. Can we still do a bicycle kick? Hell no.
- We are composed. Many of us have been through the ringer. We’ve suffered losses. We’ve raised our kids to be responsible individuals. This life experience has prepared us to keep our heads and remain calm.
- We can laugh at ourselves. So maybe my memory isn’t what it used to be, but it was funnier than hell when I wore two different shoes to work. No problem, I had an extra pair in my cube.
- We cope well. See number 12.
- We’re mature. We appreciate a good time or two, but the office is professional. Gone are the days when I would toss the Nerf football around the office or put Vaseline on my colleagues’ telephone receivers or put rubber eyeballs in the water cooler. (That was a good one.)
- We’re everywhere. Have you ever noticed that a large majority of CEO’s, presidents, VP’s, and managers are mature workers? You can’t get rid of us…unless you want the ship to sink.
- We’re great mentors. Perhaps it’s because we’ve had our share of screw-ups that we don’t want our younger colleagues to do the same. We’ll try to prevent this as much as we can.
- We want the company to succeed. This is a better way to say we’re loyal; but let’s face it we don’t plan to jump ship after one year on the job.
- Our work ethic can’t be beat. I ask my Mature Worker workshop participants how many of them grew up cutting their neighbors’ lawns, rather than playing Call to Duty or putting a dent in their parents’ couches.
I don’t know when my neck will feel better or when I’ll reduce my walking time, but I know that, like fine wine that ages with time, I’ll only get better at what I do on the job. As time goes on, I’ll impart my wisdom, level-headedness, and sense of humor on those who are less fortunate than mature workers.
If you have additional reasons why employers should hire mature workers, let me know in a comment below.
Photo, Flickr, CEO Headshot