Are we missing a bet on older workers?
The headline on a Jan. 8 New York Times story blared "I Am (an Older) Woman. Hear me Roar."
The subhead listed 78-year old Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; actress Glenn Close, 71; and Susan Zirinsky, who will be 66 when she becomes head of CBS News in March, as "powerful women over 60."
Regardless of gender, 60 may or may not be the age when senior status begins. And while this column is not about gender. it is about age. The Times story raises -- or should raise -- an entrepreneurial thought or two: Are we business owners overlooking older potential employees -- perhaps inadvertently, perhaps folly especially in a time when employment markets are tight?
Maybe. Maybe we ought to rethink our hiring parameters.
If, for example, you're looking to fill a hole in your employee ranks or searching for a worker who will fit your business' expansion plans, Michelle Mobley suggests older jobseekers. Many of them, she says, "wear many hats," indicating a breadth of experience "that can be especially important to smaller businesses."
Mobley is CEO of noquo LLC, a Downers Grove recruiting firm.
If there is a problem unearthing potential employees whose age falls somewhere in the broad senior category, it may be that older workers "need to know how to sell themselves," says Bob Podgorski, a longtime jobs-and-people advisor whose RPP Enterprises LLC is a Hoffman Estates-based consulting firm.
"Seniors can't live on past laurels," Podgorski says. "They need to show energy and passion. And they need computer awareness."
Sometimes a frank conversation with Podgorski, or perhaps someone like Mobley, helps. "I ask candidates what they would look for in a candidate," Podgorski says. "Then I ask 'Where are those (skills and characteristics) on your resume?'
"That's the dilemma. When they hire, companies need productivity now."
Smaller businesses in particular have little time to train a new employee. "They're looking for someone who can help put out the fire," Podgorski says.
There is a basic question in the hiring process that has a somewhat elusive answer: Where does a business owner seeking to hire find applicants?
Podgorski manages job programs at both Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village townships. His St. Hubert's Job & Networking Ministry, which has a flock of participating church hosts, celebrates its 16th anniversary in March.
He also suggests posting any opening on your business' website, and Podgorski notes there is opportunity for some creative hiring, if necessary. One option, depending very much on the job, might be to turn that one full-time job into two part-time positions, with one employee working mornings and the other afternoons.
Mobley similarly suggests the Mom Project, a digital marketplace at www.themomproject.com; the Community Career Center, in Naperville; and the Executive Network Group, which meets monthly in Arlington Heights.
You'll need to do some exploring, but you may find a gem of an experienced candidate or two.