By Mike Podesto, founder of Find My Profession, Inc.
I hired someone who is 20 years older than me. Despite being told this was a bad idea, that he is "too old,” that he wouldn't relate to me, I hired him anyway. I know today -; as I knew then -; that this hire was the right call. Here are five important benefits an organization can enjoy from hiring "the old guy."
1. You get foresight.
Hiring a more experienced employee meant saving myself from future mistakes. As a young entrepreneur, the last thing I needed was another young professional on my roster. It’s amazing to see startups with 10-plus employees, all in their 20s and 30s, learning as they go. Hiring an older professional can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars through their foresight alone. Everybody is bound to make mistakes at one point or another. Why not hire someone who has already made those mistakes and learned valuable lessons from them?
2. You won’t get a "yes man."
Older, more experienced employees tend not to be yes men and women. While some leaders might find this to be too challenging, those companies usually have some deeper issues within their management functions. If you are looking for someone to nod along and refrain from sharing opposing viewpoints, a more mature employee is probably not for you. If you are looking for someone to provide valuable insight and a new perspective that you may not have considered, that is exactly what you will get when you hire an older candidate.
3. You will manage less.
Lee Iacocca is believed to have said it best: "I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.” Hiring young employees requires a great deal of training, developing and, often, babysitting. Older employees tend to be less dependent and able to get the job done correctly without asking as many questions about the process. My most ideal scenario as a founder and manager is when there is absolutely no (or very little) team member managing to be done. This frees up time for to delegate and spend key hours focusing on bigger picture tasks.
4. You will learn new things.
When it comes down to it, hiring people with different backgrounds and experiences builds a ton of character in leaders. If you only hang around people who are exactly the same as you, you will never learn anything. You will never be challenged. You will never step outside of your comfort zone and grow as a human being. Working with an "old guy" as a "young guy" has expanded my point of view and allowed me to see things differently. If it wasn’t for hiring a candidate with such different experiences, I would be stuck in my old ways, unlikely to make the changes necessary to my company’s success.
5. You get what you pay for.
When it comes down to it, older candidates will typically expect a higher pay rate than younger employees. Is it worth it? In my experience, absolutely. While not every older hire will demand a higher salary, it is worth it to give appropriate consideration to the terms that may be required to secure a more experienced employee. As I mentioned above, an older employee can save your business money in the long run by simply helping you avoid costly or time-consuming mistakes. Rather than thinking of a higher salary as an expense, consider it additional insurance that can save you thousands of dollars.
Hiring "the old guy" ended up being the best decision that I could have made for my company. The ignorance leading to age discrimination is generally formed from a lack of personal experience. None of the people who told me not to hire the older candidate had ever actually hired an older employee and regretted it -; they were just spectators on the sideline. Having a diverse age group at your company will complement the overall bottom line, not take away from it.
Mike Podesto is the founder of Find My Profession, Inc. | Definitely Not A Recruiter | $100k+ Executive Career Finder.