Mature Workers Have Lots to Offer – Especially in the Contract Space

August 13, 2013

Anyone who’s opened a newspaper in the past five years (or, more likely pointed their browser to a news site) knows that mature job seekers haven’t had an easy time of it in the post-recession era. After the 2008 financial meltdown and the “Great Recession” that followed, many companies were forced to lay off workers. Statistically, younger workers are more likely to lose their jobs in a recession but find employment faster. But it was widely reported that older workers had the toughest time finding new employment. Why is this?

Many laid off mature workers are hampered by the fact that they haven’t been in the job search game for a long time. Think people who find themselves back in the dating pool after a divorce. It’s the same thing and it’s a culture shock. Someone who hasn’t conducted a job search for years and years not only needs to rewrite a resume from scratch; with the pace of social networking and the growth of online “personal branding” only getting faster, mature workers are completely unfamiliar with what they need to get a new job. They need  to learn a whole new set of tools and approaches for conducting a job search. We definitely sympathize how tough it is.

From an employer’s perspective, there are a bunch of reasons why they might not give a mature  worker her/his fair due in the hiring process: they haven’t been raised on the internet, and aren’t seen by employers as possessing many of those important up-to-date skills, sometimes unfairly. Unfortunately, more senior workers are more likely to be seen as overqualified. Their salaries tend to be higher than younger workers. And employers are hesitant to pull the trigger and hire a permanent employee (a significant investment) who might leave for a better position when it comes along.

But CONTRACT – now that’s another story.

Anyone who’s opened Argentus’ website recently knows we’re on top of contingent staffing in Strategic Sourcing, Procurement and Supply Chain. Business is ‘reTHINK-ing’ how they hire. Rent rather than hire. Companies in all industries, from Financial Services to Consumer Goods and Manufacturing, are embracing a blended contingent (contract) staffing model to help handle some of these critical business functions during peak times, or for special projects or implementations.

And seasoned workers, either closer to retirement or in the later stages of their careers, are an excellent resource to fill this high-skilled contingent workforce requirement. There are a few ways in which mature workers can especially excel and provide extra value in contract positions:

  1. Seasoned workers offer excellent mentorship. This is the HUGE one. Mature workers bring with them subject matter expertise and a high degree of professionalism and business savvy. They also offer immense capabilities for mentorship and the development of younger employees. When you hire a mature worker on contract, it can pay enormous dividends in terms of the transfer of knowledge and skills – but without the large up-front investment of a permanent hire. They might not always be trained on the latest software, but they have the useful knowledge to pass on, from leading practices to over-all business sense, and Strategic Sourcing or Supply Chain team stands to benefit greatly.
  2. The Contractor lifestyle is especially appealing to a mature workforce. More seasoned workers (many have already completed their careers but are certainly not ready to retire by no means) are often looking to improve work / life balance. Contract work is attractive from a lifestyle perspective – being their own boss they are less involved in office politics, have more flexibility, more of a consultant/client relationship instead of an employee/boss relationship. An mature contractor might relish the opportunity for more free time to work on projects, hobbies or travel and supplement with contract work maybe six or nine months a year.
  3. High-skilled contingent employment manages the issue of younger employees feeling uncomfortable supervising a mature, more experienced worker. So often mature workers don’t get the job because they have more experience than their prospective supervisors. But because contingent work is modeled around more of a consultant/client relationship than a permanent hire is, there’s less reason to worry about an “overqualification” problem. It’s a win-win for all.
  4. Ultimate dependability. You don’t have the downside of worrying that a mature worker will jump to something else.  A contract arrangement is temporary from the get-go, so a company gets to reap the wisdom and experience that the contractor provides without the headaches that go along with losing a permanent hire. Often the longevity is longer than with a younger hire.

Beyond these few reasons, there are so many other reasons why mature workers are terrific. Bottom line is: they’re experienced, the know how to hit the ground running, and They. Work. Hard.

The contract lifestyle isn’t for everyone, just as hiring contingent workers isn’t necessarily the right fit for every company, but there are tremendous possibilities for synergy between mature workers and companies looking for contractors.

It’s definitely a NEW PERMANENT workforce @work! Call me to discuss how we can help you or your company with your Contingent Staffing Needs or if you are interested in exploring Contract opportunities or call me at 416-364-9919.

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Over and Out for now




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