Tips for Hiring Seniors

An older employee attending a company meeting.

Is your company struggling to find skilled, reliable full-time or part-time workers? It turns out that the most knowledgeable and reliable portion of the potential workforce is also among the most overlooked: older workers.

Contrary to popular assumptions, research shows that knowledge and expertise increase across the human lifespan—well into our 80s. As people continue to live longer, healthier lives, the portion of the workforce age 55 or older is projected to increase faster than other age groups. Still, older workers not yet ready to retire have been pushed out of the workforce at a steady rate due to widespread misperceptions about this age cohort.

This means hiring seniors could be the solution to filling that position you just can’t seem to find a good fit for. Are you having trouble finding part-time help? Workers 65 and older are twice as likely as younger workers to work part-time.

Not only are workers age 55 and older under-recruited, but hiring them comes with unique advantages:

  • Older workers stay in jobs longer and take less time off.
  • By providing unique perspectives and cognitive diversity, multigenerational teams perform at a higher level than teams made up of only younger workers.
  • Workers with more experience can help mentor less experienced employees.
  • Older workers tend to give customers more focused attention, which can help attract more business.

Tips for Finding and Recruiting Older Workers

A growing percentage of American workers say their plans include working after retirement. For many this may mean a part-time position or consulting work. For others, this may mean coming out of retirement and returning to work full time—but only for the right opportunity.

So how do you find and attract older candidates?

  • Consider partnering with a senior employment network, such as the AARP Foundation’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), aimed at hiring seniors.
  • Mention age diversity as part of your DEI policy initiatives, in a prominently displayed mission statement on your web site and in all job listings.
  • Show older employees working with clients in your promotional media and tell stories about older employees succeeding at your company in social media and on your web site.
  • Offer flexible work schedules and other accommodations, and make sure to mention this in job notices.
  • Follow the example of large corporations like Walgreens and GM by offering “returnships” that encourage seniors to come out of retirement.

Tips to Avoid Ageism in Your Hiring Process

A successful age neutral recruitment strategy starts with recognizing stereotypes about older workers for exactly what they are—an illegal form of discrimination based on false assumptions. For example, many recruiters believe that older workers are less adept at technology, , or are less ambitious than younger workers.

Evidence indicates otherwise. In fact, older workers out-perform less experienced workers in many areas. To attract top-quality seniors to your organization, you first need to eliminate ageist language and practices from your hiring processes. Since workers older than 40 are a protected category of workers, not taking this important step could place you in violation of the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA).

Follow these steps to overhaul your employment practices of ageist practices and improve your chances of hiring seniors:

  • Inventory your company’s processes and practices using a benchmarking tool like the one created by AARP and Boston College’s Center on Aging and Work.
  • Scrub your application process of questions that might reveal the age of the applicant, such as date of birth or graduation, particularly if these fields in an automated application don’t allow applicants to decline to give an answer.
  • Eliminate ageist language, such as “digital native” or “recent college grad,” from job descriptions.
  • Make sure your hiring committees are age diverse.
  • Avoid thinking of candidates as “overqualified” or using this term during an interview or as you talk about and review the merits of candidates.
  • Peg salary offers to job titles and work functions, rather than tenure, to avoid eliminating older applicants based on the assumption that they will demand too high a salary.

How to Make the Most of Senior Workers’ Experience

Older workers should be considered, and actively recruited, for a wide range of work functions. Don’t just think of seniors as good candidates for part-time, low-stress jobs—even though they definitely can excel in such roles. The most effective employment strategy includes hiring seniors in both part-time and full-time roles, including meaningful and important jobs throughout your organization.

Some of the most effective ways to leverage the unique talents of older workers include:

  • Tapping into their expertise and their well-developed interpersonal skills, as can be seen in some of the most common part-time jobs held by seniors, such as office managers, retail sales, administrative assistants, paralegals, secretaries, and security guards.
  • Creating formal cross-generational work partnerships or giving older workers more informal mentoring roles within your organization.
  • Placing seniors in retail roles where research shows they are often viewed by customers as more helpful, attentive, and well-mannered than other service workers.

Now That You Know Why and How to Hire Older Workers, Get the Word Out With a Free Job Listing

If you’re looking to reach untapped talent and attract top applicants, a free job post from Monster can help extend your reach. Regardless of whether you’re hiring seniors, recent grads, or anyone in-between, your next high-performing employee is out there—make sure they can find you.