Want To Be Innovative? Hire Older Employees

As the unemployment rate continues to descent, for job seeker over 40 the future looks bleak with potential employers passing them by for younger recruits.

The month of January and February brought good for those looking for work, with the nation unemployment rate holding steady at 4.0 percent, just half of what it was at its peak of 10 percent in October 2009.There are reasons to be hopeful, but if you are a job seeker over 40, 50 or even 60, the future may look bleak.  A study by  Federal Bank of St-Louis finds women over 50 experienced a remarkable change: from a low pre-recession LTU-to-unemployment ratio of 14 percent to a post-recession rate of 50 percent. We think it’s time for entrepreneurs and companies to take a second look at older candidates and give them a chance. The Scope Weekly interviewed Blake Nation, the founder of Over50JobBoard.com.  Nations said to Scope Weekly, “Often those over 50 aren’t given the opportunity to prove themselves, even if they have the skills needed.”

The Scope Weekly asked Nations, why his job board recommends employers to hire staff over 50. We collected his comments and edited them for your review. Here is what he had to say:

Employees over 50 bring significant benefits to companies.


Older employees are innovators. A good idea needs gestation. Older employees have had time to nurture, test and create upon what they ‘ve learned at school, identify problems and think about solutions. The accepted idea of the innovator is a young kid working away in its PJs in his dorm or their garage/office, think  Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple. The reality is these business cases are the exception and not the rule. Just take a look at Forbes list of Most Innovative Companies. None of these founders are their twenties or came up with the great innovations they are now known for twenty-one. Even though the business trends has consistently grown to higher younger mind and place them in innovative roles,  research by Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University demonstrates that a 55-year-old and even a 65-year-old have significantly more innovation potential than a 25-year-old.  So keep that in mind before you find yourself thinking that an older won’t “get” new trends or be too hard to train.

Works ethics.

Typically employees over 50 are used to working the hours necessary for the job as well as accepting of PTO per the company policies.  Older workers have a tendency to be honest, and straightforward, characteristics that are important to many businesses.

Communications skills.

Over 50 employees are used to verbal communication. If a company is needing verbal communication specifically via phone or face-to-face, over 50 can provide an excellent selection pool. Often “Customer Service” type of positions which require usage of the phone is good for over 50.

Autonomous Independent thinkers. 

Over 50 employees can think and process questions or issues that might arise in business.  For many companies this is important. Younger employees are typically not as effective in dealing with issues outside the framework of their training. 


Loyalty is a major item when one compares the over 50 group with younger employees.  The older employees are typically more loyal than their younger counterparts.  They are not always looking for their next job, and better opportunities as younger employees often do (even on company time). Over 50 employees are more grateful for the positions they hold.  They are dedicated to the company and work toward its best interest.

Why do you think companies are so hesitant in hiring older employees.

There are several reasons, and they vary among companies but I would mostly think that they are technology and ageism. Many jobs require some ability with technical skills that the hiring manager may perceive an older applicant as not possessing.


At the lowest level, many jobs require data entry.  Younger employees are more adept and specifically faster at entering data. Speed and accuracy of data entry are important for many companies.

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Another factor is that many people involved in hiring are under 50, often in their 20’s or early 30’s.  The tendency is to hire people you are more comfortable with and relate to, regardless of the skills needed.  Often a younger recruiter or HR person will do the initial screening of candidates. Consequently, they often will not pass older candidates to the actual hiring manager. This “relating-too” ‘s hard to overcome.  Over 50 candidates need to try to meet the hiring managers directly through networking or other sources like LinkedIn.



There is a perception that over 50 candidates are harder to train and less willing to change their way of doing activities.  This perception is a major block to hiring for those over 50. It’s important for those that can get an interview, to emphasize they are very open to learning and change.

Healthcare cost

Healthcare cost is of even greater concern to small companies than larger that are hiring. Many smaller companies like to hire younger employees to keep their healthcare insurance cost down.  Rightly so, healthcare costs are based on risk and rise with the age of the employees. There is nothing candidates can do about this, but it comes into play.

Accepting jobs below their skills level are often the plight of older employees. 

Nations went on to say that a lot of older employees had “white collar” or upper management careers but that the market just “isn’t there for them.” Out of necessity and financial pressure, those employees find themselves settling for lower pay jobs that they do not desire.  Nations said, “This is a common plight for those over 50 nationwide. It is a transition that many are having to make and adjust to, and is often socially, financially and emotionally challenging.”  In other words, they often find themselves accepting employment that is below their skills set. It may be wise for businesses looking to bring in fresh blood to consider all their candidates, regardless of age and gender. 

Are you over 50? What has been your experience in looking for employment? Are you an employer looking to hire new staff? Would you consider hiring someone over 50? We would love to hear from you.

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