Article, Expertise Trumps Age and Experience is a Valuable Commodity by Sharon Graham :

Expertise Trumps Age and Experience is a Valuable Commodity
Sharon Graham, CRS, CIS, CCS, CPRW, CEIP

Age is relative and the definition of an “older worker” is expanding. The labour market is dramatically shifting into a new phase, with the percentage of Canadians in the workplace who are over 50 doubling every decade. If you are an older worker, you are quickly becoming a valuable commodity in a market that needs your expertise.

Older workers have much to offer the current Canadian marketplace. This is very meaningful for you, as it indicates that qualified workers are already highly in demand, and the need for experience is only becoming more prevalent.

Consider yourself as a product and your next employer as the purchaser. In the past, older job seekers often reported that employers sometimes seemed discriminatory, in that they appeared to favour younger candidates over more mature ones. But this is all changing.

There are two key forces in action that are shifting employers’ perception of older candidates:
1. The supply of experienced workers is decreasing. As boomers retire from the workforce in greater numbers, we are creating a talent drain within our labour market.
2. The demand for experience in the labour market is increasing. The talent drain is creating an unprecedented need for people who have applied knowledge and expertise.

As the pool of knowledgeable workers is dwindling, if you are skilled and qualified through actual work experience, you are quickly becoming indispensable. According to a labour force projection study published this year in Statistics Canada’s Canadian Economic Observer, although many baby boomers will retire from the workforce by the year 2021, we can expect the proportion of people in the labour force who are 55 and older to double what it was during the mid-1990’s, to up to 20% of the workforce. This dramatic increase will predicate your future potential within the Canadian job market.

As employers realize the greater need for older workers, they are working hard to find new ways to address gaps in their own business requirements. This exciting phenomenon is already in force. Deloitte recently performed a survey of more than one hundred human resource executives across Canada and found that most companies are having a tough time dealing with the retirement of highly experienced professionals. Many executives reported critical shortages in a number of key areas within the organization. As a result, for most of these companies, hiring and retention of key people is an important issue.

The laws of supply and demand tell us that if there is a shortage of highly experienced employees, then you, as a mature candidate, are worth more to employers than less experienced workers. You are now heading from a buyer’s market into a seller’s market where you maintain quite a bit of power. The excess of demand over supply in the coming years will work to your favour.

Employers want to hire older workers because older workers often have many qualities that younger workers cannot offer. There is great value that comes from maturity. You bring:

1. Experience from a lifetime that a younger worker simply cannot possess. You have successfully overcome many hurdles in business that beginners have yet to encounter. When responding to questions, give the interviewer strong examples that come from your vast body of experience.

2. Adaptability that can only come from the transitions that people go through in their career. You have seen business go through many changes, and you have successfully adapted to them. Describe to employers how you have handled changes that have occurred during your career.

3. Expertise that comes from a deeper understanding of your job and industry. You know how your job can be done efficiently. Show by example how you can incorporate the things that you have learned to benefit your new employer.

4. Professionalism to present a favourable first impression. Dress in a current and upscale way that is appropriate to your age. Think progressive and classy when you select your interview attire. Don’t make the mistake of trying to look like someone much younger than you are. If you do, you are missing the point entirely. You risk the employer thinking that you are a desperate “has been.”

5. Maturity to deal effectively with tough business issues. Employers value the emotional stability you bring. You have gone through many life experiences that younger people just have not had the time to learn to handle effectively. You can take things in stride and focus on getting the job done. Don’t underestimate how valuable this is to the employer.

6. Leadership to mentor other employees and set a good example. You know how to listen and when to communicate. Remind your recruiter that as a mature professional, you don’t focus on frivolous gossiping and backstabbing. Instead, you create a work environment that is conducive to teamwork and results.

7. Integrity that is displayed through your honesty and values. In a world that puts more emphasis on getting ahead than on being truthful, you can stand apart from the rest. If you are a highly ethical professional, you must let the employer know. And, if pride in a job well done is more important to you than just looking for the next move up the ladder, then express this.

8. Dedication and understanding of the importance of reliability. When talking with employers, explain your intention to dedicate yourself fully to your next employer. As a mature worker, you might be more likely to stay later to get the job done, have better attendance, and be more punctual than younger workers. If this is true, then focus on your strong work record.

9. Commitment to stay in the job and maintain loyalty to your employer. Employers may be concerned that you anticipate retiring soon when in fact, younger people in particular tend to leave jobs for new opportunities more often than older workers. If you are not planning to leave any time soon, remind your potential employer. Show that you are proactive and think ahead by discussing what you can do in the longer term for the company.

10. Vitality that comes from loving the career enough to stay in it for the long run. It is likely that you offer many things that dispel pre-conceived notions about age. If you are in better shape than many others, express how you can effectively complete the physical work involved. Empower yourself with your optimistic and upbeat outlook, and you will find people are more likely to pay attention to your qualifications than your age. Smile during your interview. Studies show that smiling builds rapport by making you look pleasant, younger, and full of life.

The laws of supply and demand naturally put you in a better position to negotiate your employment terms, compensation, and benefits. You offer an excellent return on your employers’ investment. By hiring you, employers will decrease the costs associated with recruitment, training, and turnaround. Plus, you will be able to create almost immediate results in increased productivity and profitability because you know the job so well.

Sharon Graham is Higher Bracket’s principal résumé expert and author of Best Canadian Résumés. With multiple certifications in résumé, interview, and career strategy, Sharon has elevated the industry by delivering cutting-edge innovations to résumé writers and career practitioners across Canada. She assists six-figure job seekers though her consulting firm Graham Management Group, and is executive director of Career Professionals of Canada. You can reach Sharon by e-mailing

IMPORTANT OFFER: If you are a Higher Bracket subscriber and have not already taken advantage of our free résumé assessment offer, don’t wait any longer. E-mail your résumé to résumé for an exclusive offer to receive a personal and honest critique directly from Sharon Graham, Canada’s leading executive-level résumé expert.


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