Hire Older Workers on a Contract Basis

Even during the Great Resignation, there are certain groups of workers who are having trouble finding work: People 50 and older. People who have been in the workplace for two to three decades. People who are a few years away from retirement, but still have plenty to offer.

I can’t tell you the number of Generation X and Boomer job candidates I’ve seen, not just for factory work but for a variety of office positions.

And yet, during the Great Resignation, corporations are complaining that they can’t find anyone to fill all those empty roles that they’ve had on their job boards for months.

“I’ve applied to a few dozen jobs and I can’t find anything,” seems to be a common refrain from the older job candidates.

It’s like the corporations who are so desperate to fill roles refuse to look at anyone who was born before 1972.

Older worker at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City.Of course, we all know age discrimination has been rampant in the workplace — IBM is being sued for age discrimination (it’s been an issue there for a few years, in fact) — but it’s hard to prove.

So even though recruiters and hiring managers aren’t telling job candidates, “You’re too old,” it’s a problem. And we can all see it.

Older Workers Know More Than You Think

These companies who are refusing to hire older workers are shooting themselves in the foot.

But let’s set moral wrongness and unethical behavior aside for the moment. What are the actual benefits of hiring older workers for open job roles?

For one thing, depending on the role, you’re going to have someone with a lot more experience and knowledge than the younger person you’re trying to hire. In some cases, these are workers whose industry knowledge goes further back than the young employees have ever been alive.

Want to hire a 26-year-old accountant, but you’ve got a 56-year-old accountant sitting across from you? You’re turning down a candidate who probably knows more about accounting than anyone else in the building.

Want someone to handle accounts receivable for you? Why not hire the person who ran an AP department for 15 years after working in that job for another 15 years?

Need a graphic designer? Anyone who’s been in the graphic design business for the last 25 years has been doing it on a computer, so don’t give me this “older people don’t know technology” bullshit. Who do you think was doing it before the younger generation came along?

If you’ve got holes to fill in your workplace, you will not find a better, more experienced staff than people who have been working in the field for a couple of decades.

Hire Them as Contractors

If nothing else, hire these people as contractors, not full-time employees. Give them a reduced schedule and only hire them for getting the work done. Leave them out of meetings, which are a huge waste of time anyway.*

* Seriously, how many hours a week do we waste in meetings? If you were to hire people to only work and not attend meetings — because you have to pay them to attend meetings, too — they will have a lot more time to get things done than those regular meeting attendees. You might be able to hire them for a three-quarter schedule because they’re not attending meetings.

Give them a desk or let them work from home one or two days a week. Remember, you’re hiring these people for results, not effort.

If you need someone to keep your AP running smoothly, let them get to it. They know all the tips and tricks.

If you need someone to handle all your financial statements, turn them loose. They know what needs to be done and how to file everything.

If you need someone to design your various marketing collateral, your seasoned pro will be able to do it better and faster than your recent college grad.

Just remember that, as contractors, you’re not able to tell them when and where they have to work. But what do you care? You want the results, and you’re less concerned about the effort. They’ll do the work and keep your office running smoothly. You won’t have to train them, deal with the same errors that new professionals often do, and you’ve got someone who understands what it means to work and what it takes to get the job done.

Hiring older professionals can plug up a lot of the holes in your workforce. Hiring them as contractors reduces your costs, but gets great results.

I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including pivoting within their industry. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Author: David Marshall
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.