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Employers and the Older Worker 

Some employers have concerns about hiring older workers based on dated concepts of what it means to be an older worker. Awareness of these preconceived ideas will help you to address them during an interview. 

Employers’ Concerns About Age

Below are some concerns that an employer may have regarding your age. We’ve also included some tips to address these concerns.

Having up-to-date technology skills:  If you have any experience with computers and online media, make sure to mention your computer and Web literacy during the interview. If you're not as comfortable with computers as you need to be, take a class. Mention your other skills, strengths, and interests, particularly those that the employer is looking for.

Handling physical demands and hours: If it's relevant to the job, provide examples of your youthful energy and positive attitude toward physical activity. Mention time spent with your children or grandchildren, and outdoor activities like hiking, running, swimming, or cycling.

Contemplating a quick retirement: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers over 55 have the longest tenure of all age groups with their employers. Focus on your dedication to making the most of your time on the job. Explain that your top priorities are not money or title, but the nature and challenge of the job.

Adjusting quickly to change: You may mention a recent job in which you regularly had to think quickly and make changes under pressure. Draw on a former work or life experience when you had to make significant changes to adjust to changing circumstances.

Fitting into the workplace culture: Emphasize your ability to work with people of all backgrounds and ages. You may want to mention working for a boss who was younger than you, especially if that person has agreed to be a reference for you. To show your flexibility, you may want to consider offering to work during hours that younger workers with family obligations might not be able to work.

Costing more to maintain older workers: While it is true that there is an increased cost for workers with more seniority – more vacation time and pensions – these costs are often outweighed by low turnover of workers in this category. Higher turnover among other groups of workers translates into additional recruiting, hiring, and training expenses. 

Requiring higher benefit and accident costs: The total number of sick days per year for older workers is lower than other age groups because they have fewer acute illnesses and occasional sick days. Health, disability, and life insurance costs may increase as workers get older, but they are offset by the lower costs of fewer dependents. Overall, the costs of fringe benefits stay the same as a percentage of salary for all age groups.

Employee Qualities Most Desired Overall(According to HR Managers)

Top Qualities of Older Employees (According to HR Managers) 


Rank and Quality

 Rank and Quality

 1. Commitment to doing quality work  1. Loyalty and dedication to the company
 2. Get along with coworkers  2. Commitment to doing quality work
 3. Solid performance record  3. Someone you can count on in a crisis
 4. Basic skills in reading, writing, math  4. Solid performance record
 5. Someone you can count on in a crisis   5. Basic skills in reading, writing, math
 6. Willing to be flexible about doing different
 6. Solid experience in job and/or industry
 7. Loyalty and dedication to the company  7. Get along with coworkers

Click here to read more about older workers' common concerns and how to deal with them.