9 Lives for Women Blog

You’re Too Young to Give Up on the Idea of Work | April 6th, 2015

Are you hesitating about a return to the workforce because you think you’re past your prime? Age should not be a factor in your decision–and there is solid evidence backing that up.

First of all, you’re probably not anywhere near the age that employers would consider “old”. I once had a conversation with a woman in her late 30s who clearly thought the workforce was only for 20-year-olds. When I asked her if she ever entertained the idea of returning to work, she said, “Oh no, not at my age…but I hope that my daughters will be doctors.”

(As an aside, it may seem too late for an almost 40-year-old to put in the years of study and training to become a doctor, but I personally know two 50+ year-olds who switched careers and pursued nursing–one who I write about in “Candy Striper Revisited“.)

Women in their 40s, 50s and even 60s and 70s should not ever feel that work opportunities have passed them by. In fact, the late 2012 Adecco Staffing Mature Worker Survey (conducted at a time when the job market was weak and employers could pick and choose their ideal candidates from a never-ending pool of qualified job seekers) points out that hiring managers are three times more likely to hire a mature worker than a Millennial (those born between 1980 and 2000).

Here are more important facts you should know:

  • When hiring managers are asked to name top attributes for mature workers and Millennials, they say reliable and professional for older workers and creative and strong networkers for younger workers.
  • Hiring managers think older workers are much stronger writers.
  • Mature workers are likely to be committed to a company for the long-term–and hiring managers fear that Millennials have little staying power.
  • Overall, hiring managers find fewer challenges in hiring older workers.

When it comes to skills that need strengthening, it’s no surprise that hiring managers feel that older workers are often not technology pros. This is especially true if you have been out of the business world (or out of a volunteer role that requires business skills) for many years. It should not, however, be a barrier to your return. It’s pretty simple to get up to speed with technology in a fairly short time. (Read my blog post, “Get Out of the Technology Wasteland” for a quick rundown on what you need to learn.]

The other shortcoming hiring managers see in older candidates is a lack of sales skills. That’s not sales skills for a sales job–it’s the skills needed to sell your fit for a job. With women returning to the workforce it all comes down to confidence–and these facts that show older job seekers are welcome candidates should give you newfound conviction that you are indeed young and vital enough to apply your skills and experience to a money-making job.  —KAS

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