Over-40 Job Seekers: Show Employers the Talent

Source: IT Business Edge

Here at IT Business Edge, we’ve written a lot about age discrimination and the youth-centered culture prevalent at many tech companies. The words of Professor Peter Cappelli at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, reported by Bloomberg, have proved haunting:

“We don’t want to have to train anybody, and when those skills become obsolete, we don’t want to retrain them,” he says. Companies tend to hire people with IT engineering degrees, use those skills for five years, and then they want a new crop, says Cappelli, who researches human resource practices and talent management.

There’s been plenty of depressing news for older workers, especially after U.S. News & World Report reported that the jobs being created after the recession were  not going to workers of a certain age.

And yet companies still bemoan the difficulty in hiring for important technical positions. In a CNET article on ProMatch, “an interactive career resource center” for Silicon Valley job seekers, however, the “experienced” workers who use it describe the sessions there as “supportive” and “upbeat.” The takeaway from that article is that older workers can find new employment — many simply need to learn about the new ways of networking, including LinkedIn and Facebook. (It seems the value of this face-to-face networking can’t be underestimated, though.)

The key to finding a new job, as always, is offering skills that employers need. According to the article:

… given today’s shortage of top-tier engineers, talent is the most valuable currency of all, and those who can do a good job of presenting in-demand skills are getting hired, sometimes specifically because of their years in the field.

Hiring older workers as contractors — even retirees — can be a winning strategy and one increasingly being used in IT and engineering, according to an article at ere.net. It’s a strategy being embraced by the federal government. The article quotes Greg Doersching, founder of Bullseye Recruiting Process, as saying:

Companies are losing way too much experience with the retirement of the Baby Boomers. Some companies are sucking that experience back in on contract. They don’t have enough people to replace all of that experience.

The article makes the case that retirees can take a six-month contract and travel the other six months, a lifestyle not limited to the over-60 crowd. Contracting can be a boon for job-seekers in other ways: In its latest monthly report, Dice.com noted that consultants average more than $20,000 a year more in salary than their full-time colleagues.