I fear that in our hiring practices, we are just as ageist as every other sector.
By Steve Moran
Hang in there with me as I dump a few random thoughts . . .
Senior living should be the least ageist industry in the world.
We have a huge labor shortage.
That labor shortage is particularly acute for good executive directors and higher.
Many of the top leaders in senior living are 50+, including many that are in their 60s.
And Yet . . .
I fear that in our hiring practices we are just as ageist as every other sector — except maybe high tech which is frightfully and abysmally, maybe even pridefully, ageist.
Every few weeks I get a call or an email from someone who is 50+ and has deep industry experience and success but simply can’t find a job. Of course, no one ever says “you’re too old”, mostly they just never hear back or get told they are looking for someone with more skills with technology, or with more energy.
I Get It
Some older workers who are looking for jobs don’t come across as eager or as passionate as a new person who is still early in their career. They may even come across as tired or lacking passion. But maybe what you are really seeing is someone who has more experience and perspective. It might even be that, though burned out, they could be your superstars.
It is possible, more than likely actually, that they are burned out for good reasons. We know for sure, that there are a lot of senior living organizations that, while well-intentioned, have not yet figured out how to take really good care of their team members. In many cases, the burnout cases were turned into burnout cases by their organizations.
Imagine taking one of those burnout cases and giving them a fresh lease on life. They will be grateful and bring a world of wisdom to your organization.
If you are one of those 50+ looking for a job . . .
Can We Do Some Hard Truths?
Maybe not you, but there are some older workers that I wouldn’t want to hire either. Here is why:
They come across as being know-it-alls.
They talk too much and listen too little.
They spend a ton of time talking about what is wrong with the industry, their last organization or organizations, younger people, and so on.
They demand too much in the way of time off, job flexibility, money, and title.
All they talk about is their accomplishments in the past.
When you walk into an interview with someone who is younger than you, who has been at this a lot less time than you have, that first impression is still important. They want to know that by hiring you they are going to feel like they uncovered a diamond. You need to be able to use your wisdom to figure out how to make a real difference in that organization.
Ask lots of questions, offer some ideas. Listen. It may be that this new organization you want to work for is actually doing some good things and they might even have some things they can teach you as well.