The Advantages of Hiring for Experience

In my last article, I shared with you some anecdotal evidence of age discrimination occurring in the job market and how experience seems to no longer be valued as it was before. Some companies even have been accused of laying off older employees and hiring multiple younger ones to take their places.

This practice can be a costly mistake. Think about it – if you have to hire three to replace one, is that really the best investment? “But it’s cheaper to hire college grads than it is to keep older employees who are going to cost me more in salary and benefits”, you say.

Ah, yes… that one. You’ve probably heard a number of these myths before.

  1. Older employees cost more
  2. Younger workers perform better than older ones
  3. Older employees can’t keep up with the technology that drives business today

Let’s address them by pointing out the realities that negate these myths that have been borne out by research.

Older employees are salary-realistic

The myth that older workers are more expensive seems to be based on a perception that they expect 5-10% salary increases at specified intervals. Really? Do millennials expect these types of increases? Long before the recession went into full-swing, high tech companies were feeling the pinch and cut back significantly. Those who were employed went for years with flat salaries as corporate giants were merged and bought out. Most were just thankful to have retained their jobs. Believe me… there is no such expectation anymore.

Is the thought that mature workers expect to be paid more for just having been in the business for so long? Well, there is something to be said for paying for experience. Given the fact that older workers are often more adroit at being able to work through issues and applying what works more quickly, they may be more aptly placed in higher level positions. But again, what you pay for is the work being done – not the age of the person in the position.

Another thing to consider is that older workers may be more flexible and willing to take on part-time work. They are not as driven by salary expectations as they once were when they were building their lives and their families and trying to figure out how to afford college and the house of their dreams.

Productivity is enhanced through experience

Research by the Bureau of Labor statistics debunks the myth that older workers are less productive. While younger workers may have a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to inject into a project, often they can find themselves spending a lot of time just trying to figure it out. When you hire older, experienced workers, you’re hiring someone who has often seen the same type of problem before and knows the most expeditious way of resolving it.

I recently witnessed this tendency first hand. A client requested that we pull together a presentation that would help upper management understand the need to invest in a certain area. After we drafted the slide deck per the specifications, my colleague spent 10 minutes “delivering” the story to the client as if he were the presenter. Then he spent a few minutes offering advice based on his many years of experience as a sales rep. He suggested they move material currently in the back of the deck right up front. He recognized the importance of bringing attention to the issues right away so as to avoid losing the audience’s attention before the client hit his most important points. While the hours we spent modifying the slides per the client’s specifications made for a great looking deck, I truly believe that the 15 minutes my colleague spent presenting the story and offering his advice were worth more than gold.

Old dogs learn new tricks faster

High tech is an exciting, fast-paced world where things are constantly changing. It’s filled with people dreaming up inventions to improve our lives and finding creative ways to bring them to market. I love it. Always have. I remember my first smart phone, an answer to a prayer I had years earlier, enabling me to access my email to check on projects while I was on vacation–just to give me peace of mind.

Could my teenage son use it more easily than me? Mysteriously, yes. There are times I wonder if bits and bytes made it into his DNA in utero. But does that mean I can’t learn how to use it? Absolutely not. Along with many new technologies, there’s a new lingo to be learned, but as soon as nomenclature is clarified, new technologies often reveal themselves to be older ones simply rebranded. As soon as I caught on with the new lingo – i.e. “app” is short for “application” – I was off and running.

Cloud computing is another relatively well-understood concept just going by a different name – mainframe computing combined with a distributed architecture. Sometimes the only real difference between the technology older workers are familiar with and the things found today is the language used to describe it.

Mature workers can sometimes learn new tricks faster because they understand the history behind the technology’s development and can connect the dots, leading to a deeper understanding. It helps them to provide others with a different perspective. I knew one business owner who was extremely frustrated because his new Voice over IP application didn’t work the way the vendor promised. When he complained about the server and software costing so much, I asked what other traffic he was running over the network. When he showed me his website and all the great graphics and video he was featuring, my first question was “When was the last time you upgraded your network?” Hadn’t even occurred to him.

Experience the benefits experience brings

The advantages you get when you hire a mature, older employee boils down to this – experience. The experience they bring to the table can help them to view things in ways you might not have previously considered.

At Porter Consulting, our seasoned team of professionals can help companies grow revenue and market share by virtue of their experience and by utilizing the latest marketing and sales methodologies. Learn more at:

Dale Rensing has been helping customers envision the benefits of technology, from local area networks to cloud technologies and IoT for over 25 years.  You can find more blogs and content from Dale at  Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.

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