There are Many Reasons to Hire Older and More Experienced Employees
All we need is a chance
I’ve been busy for the past 20 years. Even though I haven’t worked many “real” jobs, I did a lot of freelancing – writing, copywriting, web development, and web design. Honestly, during that time, I was dealing with a whole slew of mental health issues, so it’s a wonder I could work at all.
In my early career, I was known for being able to start at the bottom and work my way into management. Fast food, web development, interface design – I always proved to be a stand-out and the upper echelon couldn’t help but promote me. I did all this without a degree beyond an associate's.
I’ll finally graduate next year.
I often wonder what I could have accomplished with a degree without mental illness dragging me down. I wonder if I could have gone from my teens, into college and then graduated into some high-profile company that only recruited top talent.
Instead, it took me until 55 to get my undergrad (next year) and I spent most of my 20s, 30s, and 40s freelancing because it suited me better than a 9-to-5. I didn’t even really do enough freelancing to support myself, because all that time I drew Social Security.
I have my regrets. I wish I could have attempted the corporate ladder when I was young. I’m not as spry physically as I used to be and therefore not as confident. I am having to rejoin the workforce now and prove myself all over again. Frankly, I’m not the man I once was in my 30s. Now I am a bearded and tattooed beast, not in the best shape, running around trying to create a legacy for my children in the last parts of my life.
All this after suffering a massive heart attack last year. All this after wasting my life in a hell of mental illness. All this as a 55-year-old married man, with a 4-year-old autistic toddler, a precocious 11-year-old daughter, and three men who I am proud to call my sons. I’ve lived a hard life and it shows, but here I am trying to make my mark by starting another career in my 50s.
I apply for job after job and so far, have received only rejection. I know I have to play the long game because several of my good friends have all been looking for jobs for 6+ months and have been rejected time after time. I know that people much younger and more motivated will be filling these positions.
Is it too much to hope that there is a place out there for my friends and I, even if we are technically over the hill and not in our prime? Is there a place we can be fulfilled and do our best work? We are writers, graphic designers, brand managers, creative leads, web designers, developers, and copywriters – is there a place that wants to hire good people for good money, in an atmosphere of diversity, inclusion, empathy, and synergy?
Is there a place looking for experience, work ethic, common sense, and reliability? Those of us of a certain age don’t need to be taught how to be an employee, we have been through years of 8-hour weeks, and 5-hour meetings. We have crushed hundreds of deadlines and made a few people, business owners, and CEOs, very rich with the ideas and hustle we expended for their benefit.
Time and time again we have proven to be the most valuable players in the game, we just happen to be a bit older now, and less able to deal with the corporate BS. Maybe we can no longer work 80-hour weeks, but I guarantee we can put 80 hours of effort into a 40-hour week.
There are so many reasons to hire older and more experienced workers. Sure, we may ask for a little more money, but isn’t it worth it to stack your company rolls with the best of the best? Isn’t it worth it to get a workforce that knows the value of time and knows what it takes to be the best we can be?
We are all winners; we just need a chance to prove that we have what it takes. We need a place to thrive and bosses willing to take chances on an older workforce who still have a lot to prove.
Stop looking for new and fresh. Stop prioritizing the young over the older. If you are willing to give an older worker a chance at a valuable career, it will only pay dividends in the long run.