Age and Experience

I listened to an interview that Hillary Clinton gave yesterday where she was asked about a person in her new book that was not given due consideration for his experience because of his age.  This gentlemen worked in her State Department, and White House aides dismissed his participation because they had not experienced his world view.  She however, found his experience of value because it aligned with her world view and experience.

It got me to think about how much age and experience plays into our current problems in a lot of companies today.  We recruit with a wish list that is 50 pages long of applicable experience, and yet we hire the person that will accept our low ball offer.  Most of the time, you get what you pay for.

There are a lot of Baby Boomers retiring, and yet there are many with another 10 years to go before retirement.  Many are unemployed and if they are employed are working in jobs that require half of their talents or all their talents with half the compensation.  For companies that can get experience and not pay for it they feel like they are winning, but in the end will land up losing.

While it is illegal to discriminate based on age, it happens all the time.  The company that wants experience, also wants youth.  Hello, you cannot get both at the same time!  It takes time (older) to obtain experience.  Experience is what prevents problems, and it does not mean that they are not current.

I was told 9 years ago when I started a consulting business that I was not old enough to be taken seriously as a consultant, that I should bleach my blonde hair white to signal age and experience.  Yet now that I am 9 years older (still blonde) I am told that my experience means I will cost a lot of money because I have worked with more than just a couple of companies during this time.  But I have a different take on this age and experience issue.

I see that many companies are being led by inexperienced people, and they don’t want their ideas challenged.  Hiring inexperienced people keeps them in a safe and secure position.  While hiring a former trainer to be your new corporate training manager, rather than someone who has done the job before, saves money yes, but it also creates a no conflict relationship at work.  This inexperienced person has nothing to lean on and they must accept what they are being told to do.  If I was the training manager, I might see options because I come with experience.

Bottom line, if you want to increase the odds of success you hire experience.  Experience comes with age, so to be successful you just might have to hire someone who knows more than you do.  It won’t kill you, and in fact it might promote you instead!



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