A Case for Hiring Older, Self-Employed, and “Over-Qualified” Candidates

By Jessica L. Benjamin - Recruitment Advertising - Boston

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In the course of my work, which currently includes selling resume database access and in the past has included recruiting, I’ve seen recruiters and hiring managers exclude candidates for reasons that hurt their own efforts to make a successful hire.

If you are such a recruiter or hiring manager, I’m going to suggest that you do something brave and give certain groups of candidates a second look.

A Case for Hiring Older Workers

Often, recruiters and hiring managers think someone who has been in the workforce a long time, is currently working for themselves, or has held a higher level position in the past is not worth considering for employment.

In the first instance, which is basically age discrimination, employers might fear that a person who is older may be more challenging to manage, may need to use more of the company’s healthcare benefits, or may demand a higher salary.

There is no way of knowing if any of these are the case without talking to the candidate. Many years of experiencing different management styles may make a person easier to manage as they have “seen it all” and have probably seen a lot worse than what your manager has to offer.

Anyone of any age can have a catastrophic health emergency, so this fear may be over exaggerated. And while the person may have made a higher salary in the past, if they are unemployed they may be prepared to make appropriate lifestyle changes to work for a lower salary, and grateful for the opportunity since they are so often subjected to hiring bias.

If someone is self-employed and looking for a job, they may have found they can’t command the same income on their own as they can working for a company. They may be tired of the responsibility of running every aspect of a business. If they are applying, they are interested in returning to employee status, perhaps seeking employee benefits or relief from paying their own employers’ tax. Or they may miss the social aspects of working as a part of a team.

And there is no reason why such a return could not be mutually beneficial. The person may have gained leadership skills and learned about many other aspects of business, such as the law, accounting, and soliciting new business while running their own show. This broad base of abilities will support their future abilities as an employee working in their area of core competency and make it easier for them to work with other departments because they will have more empathy for what those people have to do.

Finally, many people have held high-level positions in the past and left them behind for a variety of reasons. Perhaps their industry became obsolete. They could have decided that they were not interested in being in management and worrying about getting work done through other people. They may have been promoted beyond their level of competency. Or perhaps they want a bit more work/life balance.

If they are in the job market, it’s worth it to see why they left the position and if they may be a fit for your opening. Their previous experience may be a big benefit in a role with you, and the job may be a better fit for their abilities.

As a recruiter, it may take some courage and conviction to bring any of these issues up, but for a hard-to-fill position, I think they are ideas worth discussing.

Views expressed are my own. Follow me on Twitter at @JLBHireCalling


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