No Jobs for Us Over 50 Folks!

In an interview with Bottom Line Personal (1/1/07, p. 7), Richard Bolles, author of “What Color Is Your Parachute,” says companies don’t want to hire workers over age 50, even though age discrimination is illegal, for fear the will:

1. Lack energy.
2. Retire soon.
3. Strain the company’s pension or health care plan.
4. Demand hefty salaries.

As an old guy myself, I am increasingly prejudiced against youth. I am hesitant to hire workers under 30, for fear that they may be:

1. Too inexperienced.
2. Immature.
3. Lacking in knowledge and track record that can only be gained through years of working in their industry or profession.
4. Ignorant and arrogant–there are things they should know but don’t, and worse, they don’t know that they don’t know.

Who’s justified in their fears of hiring workers who are too young or old?

Bolles? Bly? Neither?

Is there any truth to any of the above fears of hiring the young or old?

Are there advantages to each age group that Bolles and I don’t acknowledge?


107 thoughts on “No Jobs for Us Over 50 Folks!

  • Gotta’ say I know a bunch of guys about 15 years older than me … I’m 46 … and most of ’em spend way too much time talking about how bored they are but they don’t want to start anything new ’cause they’re planning to retire at 62. (Funny, they don’t seem to want to offer their employers a discount on their paychecks ’til then.)

    I know some people younger than me who think 6 months to a year at an employer is plenty. Loyalty? Forget about it. They don’t believe in making a difference long-term, and they’re out the door at 5PM sharp … if not m-u-c-h earlier.

    I also know people in both categories who are exactly the opposite.

    Everything depends on the individual … there are good people and slackers at every age range.

  • The international company I work for hires anyone 18 or over. Jobs are simeple, training provided, plenty of time allowed to get up to speed, flexible hours. All the old geezers like me have been there for a long time; the young’uns churn through like water over a mill wheel. Our district alone is trying to get 100 hired by January 1 – 75 of them won’t be there February 1.

  • Age discrimination definitely does exist, and there’s no way to get around it. Most large corporations want young people whom they can shape into whatever they want. Recall one of the themes from Jim Collins’ book “Built to Last”, that most successful large companies are like cults; they have to be in order to function consistently across a large geographic area. Well, the over 50 crowd has been over the falls too many times in a barrel, and they aren’t that willing to bang the cult drum like the young folk. If the company does it right, they will have a nice pool of employees to promote up through the ranks, and will never make a lateral hire from outside the company.

  • I’ve retired twice. It didn’t work. Either time. My most recent position(I was 67 in November)is marketing director for a 40-year-old credit union. I won the spot over a number of younger applicants because I bring more years experience to the job than they’ve had birthdays! From observation, I also see younger employees lack the work ethic of us veterans. Age discrimination? Nah. I figure anyone who hires me is lucky to have me.

    After having my batteries recharged at the AWAI bootcamp last November, I developed a website in anticipation of launching a freelance copywriting venture. I have the blessings of my current CEO to write for any financial institution not in our marketplace.

  • Dan Kennedy once said, don’t think that just because someone is older they have more experience. Often it’s 1 year’s experience repeated for 30-40 years. It’s about QUALITY of experience!

    Both young and old are discriminated against. Where I come from (the UK) it is legal to pay young people less than older people. The argument is that employers need more of an incentive to employ them.

    I haved wondered why they don’t do the same for older voters (oops… I mean people). The most discriminated group (financially) are those under 18, and they don’t get to vote so they get the worst deal.

    I think older people can offer a lot of experience. But I don’t believe they are ALL hard working, no more than young people.

    It’s too simple to try and group people when everyone is an individual.

    Most people’s arguments are biased, favoring their current age in life. You can probably guess from my perspective that I’m not near 50, but neither am I in my 20’s.

    Those that are older may be forgetting what it was like when they were younger and I’m sure their viewpoint would be different.

  • I’m 23-year-old copywriter – and in today’s working society, that’s considered young. Unfortunately, I’m always discriminated against as “inexperienced” and therefore incompetent. But the businesses who DO give me a chance soon realize that I can compete with the best of them. Those clients, who are much older than I am, are very satisfied with my work.

    I think people need to be hired based on their performance, not age. If a person is exactly what you were looking for and builds your business to the top, do you care what age they are? I don’t think so.

  • Quote:


    Geez Bob — now that 90 is the new 70 (and 70 is certainly in many cases the new 55), I’d say you’re still practically wet behind the ears, tree-ring speaking!

  • Arrgghhh! The quote above didn’t come out!

    It’s from Bob’s original post, saying: “As an old guy myself,”.

  • They don’t fly through the sky, but in some ways they could not be any different if they were superman. They, are any generation that we are not in! I used to be aggravated by Gen X’ers-goldbrickers my dad would have called them. They want to come in late, leave early, and be paid what the president makes. To X and Y, tweeners and boomers are technologically challenged. I had a Y assistant, when asked to go to Office Max, simply said she did not feel like it.
    Rather than choosing youth or age, I prefer to choose the best qualities of each. Because truly it is not the age, it is the mindset.

  • I’d hire the person who reflected the spirit you described, regardless of age – and who was a self-starter to make and keep agreements & make suggestions for how to improve our service and product – regardless of age.

    The best option for all concerned is when we have a mix of ages/backgrounds/skills so both the people we hire and the people we serve can benefit by learning from each other.

    As a boomer, I love working around that younger, flexible, tech-savvy and ambitious men and women who expect to be heard and to partipate in the strategic decision-making where they work.

    I’m a firm believer in Marcus Buckingham’s premise that too many companies do not hire the right person fo the job – then try to fix her/his “weaknesses.” If they hired “right” then each person who be doing what he/she does best – and getting better at it – thus adding to the morale and productivity in the whole place
    Kare, – online network for women 40+

  • There are enough risks in each group to warrant NOT to hire anyone at all. Rather, the best is to “fill out” the age-profile of a company so that it has a blend of wisdom and brash energy.

    Young folks – no experience, staff turnover
    Slightly older folks – have experience, but have family commitments with young kids. Will not put up with cr*p management, may have technical skills but lack social connections
    Even older folks – have too much experience to put up with recycled ideas from younger management. “Been there done that, didn’t work”
    About to retire folks – not worth learning new skills

  • I’m a career B2B hi-tech complex sales guy…

    In a business world that begins and ends every 90 days, show me a competent man or woman with a sense of urgency and willingness to succeed and I could care less how old or young they are.

    I’ve hired people in their late 20s and late 50s…and I’ve been proven right and wring in my decision to bring them both “on board.” Evaluating each hiring decision, both good and bad, I’ve never once found age to be the determining factor.

    When I was young, I thought age was over-rated. As I age, I believe it more so.

  • I agree with Bob. In my experience, older, more experienced people offer better return on investment.

    I also believe that losers look at how much the employee costs for the company. Winner, on the other hand, look at what the company can gain by hiring a person.

    So, with that in mind, it seems older people are more cost effective to hire. They’ve spent a lifetime to hone their skills on their previous employers’ dimes, so by their fifties their skills are refined, and also have the discipline to do what needs to be done.

  • I’m a young copywriter, and yes, I get frequently passed over by older people. It would be stupid for me to complain and say that they are less talented than me, because obviously it can’t be accurately contested here.

    However, I will say that as a young person, I am definitly more open to new ideas and new techniques while still applying the fundamentals to selling. It seems like many seasoned copywriters I come across get the techniques mixed up with the fundamentals of copywriting, and therefore continously do droll work once they reach a certain peak. Then again, I know plenty of older people that are young thinkers and consequently produce great work on a regular basis. It’s really not about the age at all, but rather the mindset.

    Truth be told, I look for my work among the young and successful. Because, they know just what it’s like to be passed over, talked down to, and left to fend for themselves. I would rather work for them than some stuffy old fool that places more weight on a person’s age than how talented they are…they deserve what’s coming to them.

  • The art of hiring is the ability to see the person beyond age colour or religion, will the person you hire honour the contract between the employer and employee.
    Statistically you will see no difference between age groups on the ability to perform their role in the work place.

  • I Seriously suggest a City, State and/or Federal Agency (step in and seriously regulate) that all Employers have
    25 to 30% of their total workforce,(at all times)be 55 + on their payrolls. Otherwise steep fines will apply.

  • What is the right age? When I was 21 I was too young? When I was 30 I was too old? Seems like I’lve spent my career being either too old or too young. If we are going to raise the retirement age then we need to be willing to hire older people. How many people retire young because they can’t find anything?

  • I’m 55 and look it. Since I turned 50 I have applied for multiple positions, some of which were very rudimentary, others good paying jobs I had a solid resume for. I don’t know how many positions I’ve applied for, and not a single time have I ever even gotten an interview. Of course living in the state of Michigan makes it tough for anybody to get a job.

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  • I would like to find a new career at age 53. My background has been in sales or debt collections. Is there any companies out there with great benefits willing to give me a shot. I am looking for a good base plus commission. I won’t let you down.

  • Looking for a sales management opportunity in NYC. 20 years of successful sales and sales management experience. Open to any Industries. Results oriented.

  • Over 50, and want a job. A bit disabled too for many. Try to find a job. Have a bach, or A MASTER’S, DEGREE, SO WHAT. Age discrimination and the job unemployment rate today, good luck. It really depends on your edudcation and what field, yet most companies will not hire you if they can get someone 26 to 36 instead, period. Face the facts. I haven’t been able to find anything at all. I’ve tried to work for an hour for 8 bucks for many places, soory sir, can’t help you. Can you lift 50 pounds all day sir, I doubt it at yoour age, can’t hire you, might have a worman’s comp claim. Anyone who says different is a liar I say to you. We in America must create jobs in America, or we will fall. Maybe it will be like that old movie on TV. Once you reach 50, you just become euthanized, less mouths to feed. Kill the old people. Watch your backs people, you never know. Do I sound a bit an alarmist? Too bad.. I’m still trying to get the money to pay the rent, and unlike the 70’s, you can’t just go out and find some odd jobs, too many people and too little money for most. So, what are we going to do. School isn’t an option. The 10 million multi level marketing home based businesses are all scams. No One will hire us. What’s next?? Get disability, no problem, just wait a few years living in the gutter with a PO Box. Then again, will that be around much longer. Ageism in AMerica is an epidemic, look it up on the internet for yourselves, and OPEN YOUR EYES and face the truth. Then we must do something about it, or next choice, starve or a bullet in the head. Less mouths to feed, right. Don’t give an opinion. do the research first, and go find a job and tell them you are 50 and over. DUH!!!

  • My experience is vast and so are my skills.
    I have been trained to operate 7 kinds of printing presses. I have certificates to prove it.
    I have been out of work for 1 year now and
    nothing is happening. Old people are TRASH,
    no employer will take that chance on me.
    So throw me away, but look out because ther are 17 million of me! Some shit has to happen
    cause we aren’t all sissies!

  • i started work in a factory, there was a certified trainer there to help us learn a job, the 21 year old girl, who was with me, whined, and said she did not want to do the hard job. so they gave that job to me. im 52, and female. the trainer stood over by her.hanging on every word she said. and taking away her parts and bringing her new ones. men do not want want to hear about,all the goofy things you did in h. s. etc. especially that dude, who was about 30. but this is not the first time i have dealt with this crap. the 21 year old left refreshed,that easy day she had ,and i was exhausted, ihad to work like a dog. all because i am not young and cute. i find myself crying, as i write this. k alvis

  • 65, just finished 6 years of college to complete an undergraduate and a masters. Want to teach. . . think it’s easy finding a job? Think again.

    Industry HR and Training departments won’t come near and there’s been no response from schools.

    Yes, I know the economy is down, but damn! I’m feeling like everyone wishes I would just up and die . . . it’s disheartening!

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