‘Leveraging the grey hairs’: How the over 50s can offer unique skills as organisations face talent and skills shortages

In today’s dynamic and rapidly evolving talent market, the value of diverse perspectives cannot be overstated. While younger generations often dominate discussions surrounding innovation and adaptability, it’s crucial not to overlook the wealth of experience and expertise that older candidates can bring to the table.

In this article, our Director of Recruitment Project Partnerships, Jon Sleightholme, highlights how embracing age diversity in the workforce can significantly enhance your organisation’s capabilities and competitiveness.

Nowadays, there are certain key changes in the working life of the average individual compared to previous decades:

  1. We are living longer on average
  2. People generally want or need to work longer than previous generations
  3. Talent pools are shrinking, and organisations need to adapt their talent strategy to encompass all areas of diversity
    These facts not only illustrate the widespread demand for talent among organisations, but the demand among more senior workers for the opportunity to lend their experience to new roles. I suggest that these two problems can solve themselves with each other’s help.

A rich tapestry of skills

First and foremost, the over 50s typically come with a rich tapestry of skills garnered over years, if not decades, of employment experience. Their careers may well have involved a wide array of situations, challenges, and industries, providing them with a nuanced understanding of a wide variety of business environments. Whether it’s navigating complex organisational structures, managing diverse teams, or problem-solving under pressure, this generation often possess a depth of knowledge.

There is real merit in bringing a mature perspective to decision-making processes. Seasoned judgement and critical thinking skills are honed through facing and resolving complex issues, allowing these people to offer valuable insights and alternative viewpoints that challenge conventional wisdom and spur innovation within organisations. By embracing this diversity of thought, you can foster a culture of creativity and forward-thinking.

Dedication and adaptability

In my experience, candidates of this generation commonly demonstrate a strong work ethic and dedication, forged through dealing with various recessions, economic crashes, and periods of growth. They understand the value of commitment, reliability, and perseverance – qualities that are indispensable in today’s fast-paced business landscape. Their reliability and consistency can serve as pillars of stability, especially during times of change or uncertainty.

Also, contrary to stereotypes, older candidates tend to demonstrate resilience and adaptability in the face of technological advancements and industry disruptions. Most people of my generation and older are eager to embrace new technologies and methodologies, they have seen massive change in the workplace, for example when I started working hardly anyone had a PC and emails were very much the exception in terms of business communication – bring back the fax machine, I say!

Strong leadership qualities and professional networks

Older candidates often exhibit strong leadership qualities derived from years of managing teams and projects; they excel in mentoring and coaching younger colleagues, passing down knowledge and skills that are instrumental in nurturing the next generation of talent.

Additionally, older candidates frequently possess extensive professional networks cultivated over their careers. These networks can prove invaluable in terms of business development, partnership opportunities, and talent acquisition. Leveraging their connections can open doors to new markets, resources, and talent pools, giving your organisation a competitive edge in today’s interconnected global economy.

The key to your skill shortage?

In short, in the face of talent shortages and an aging population, the over 50 generation can bring a wealth of experience, expertise, and perspective that can greatly enrich your organisation. By embracing age diversity in the workforce, you can tap into a vast reservoir of talent and wisdom that drives innovation, fosters growth, and propels toward success in today’s dynamic business landscape. So, next time you’re evaluating candidates, remember the invaluable contributions and diverse skills that older professionals can make to your organisation.

Guide: Is your organisation missing out on critical talent?

Many organisations approach recruitment with a bias towards industry experience and ignore candidates that possess the skills necessary to thrive in their organisation. AI’s involvement in recruitment may be worsening this problem, as programmes are told to automatically disregard CVs that don’t include relevant experience – no matter how promising they may otherwise be.

In our latest guide, our specialists explore the advantages of implementing a more ‘human’, skills-based approach to recruitment to help attract and recruit these people with ‘high demand’ skills that can help your organisation grow. Download it here.


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