While there are associations and organizations dedicated to supporting older supply chain workers, ageism is unfortunately still a reality in the workforce.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s (EEOC) 2018 report “The State of Age Discrimination and Older Workers in the U.S.” stated that despite record low unemployment, older workers still have difficulty finding a new job compared to younger workers.
According to the report “…age discrimination persists based on outdated and unfounded assumptions about older workers, aging, and discrimination.”
As an older supply chain worker, what can you do to debunk these myths and overcome the stereotypes that many employers continue to embrace these days?
It’s essential to understand the typical hesitations that many employers go through and course-correct given the opportunity.
Within the supply chain discipline, we cannot afford to waste the knowledge, talent, and experience that older workers bring to the table.
Below we’ll dive into a few of the most common myths, the reality, and best practices to “debunk” these myths.
Myth: Older workers are more expensive.
Fact: There’s a lower turnover rate among older workers compared to younger employees which can have an impact on costs associated with recruiting and training. Health insurance costs are typically offset by fewer or no dependents and older employees are typically more flexible with pay and benefits, with many having established retirement and savings accounts.
Debunk: Arm yourself with the latest data on what your skills are worth. Salary tools like payscale.com or salary.com can provide the right information needed for what you’re worth in today’s market. Emphasize the value you have delivered to prior employers and the aspects of a benefits package that you may not require.
Myth: Training older workers is a lost investment.
Fact: A survey by AARP (primary associations for older workers) found 75% of workers over 40 intend to keep working past the traditional retirement age of 65. This is especially true within Supply Chain and Operations, as many work past 65 either full time or on a consulting basis.
Debunk: If you’ve typically had longer job stints, be sure to mention this in an interview or when talking with supply chain recruiters. Clarify that you’re looking for a place to be long term. Unless it’s brought up, avoid mentioning retirement as it’s better to convey your desire to stay gainfully employed.
Myth: Older workers are less productive than younger workers.
Fact: Older workers tend to possess a high level of writing and math skills along with a lifetime of experience and maturity, compared to younger workers. Productivity is not a function of age. Mature workers tend to be goal-driven and can still produce high-quality work.
Debunk: Demonstrate the value you have delivered to past organizations and quantity the results in the form of numbers, dollar signs, percentages and the like. Be sure to highlight accomplishments that are significant and ideally relevant to the types of roles you’re applying to or interviewing for. It also helps to provide context as it relates to the supply chain or operations environment that you’ve specialized in, to include high-level details on size, scope, and complexity.
For example, if you work in Strategic Sourcing and Procurement, instead of stating “was responsible for managing supplier performance” you could try “leveraged a balanced scorecard and quarterly business reviews with our core supplier base that led to all suppliers achieving 98% or better on-time delivery performance, resulting in $2.5M in annual cost savings.”
Myth: Older workers can’t learn as quickly.
Fact: Older supply chain workers typically have superior study habits and have accumulated vast experience which can lower training needs and costs. One of the fastest group of internet users is over the age of 50.
Debunk: Stay on top of industry trends within supply chain. Research new technologies and advancements and invest in any additional training as necessary to keep pace with the changes. Be sure to highlight this in your resume as well so employers can see your dedication to staying on top of changes and trends. We leverage Feedly.com to keep track of all supply chain and industry-related blogs and news, which makes it super easy to organize, sync and digest content across all of your devices.
Myth: Older workers do not want to accept less pay, responsibility and are typically less engaged.
Fact: With an ingrained work ethic and higher punctuality that younger workers, many older workers value quality of life over money at the latter stages of their careers, and are grateful for an opportunity to continue working and provide value. An AARP study found that 65% of employees age 55+ are considered engaged while younger employees average 58% to 60%.
Debunk: While hiring managers can be more drawn to younger talent due to the perception of higher energy levels or longer runways for career growth, it’s important to highlight your energy levels in your interview. Be attentive, engaged, and present in order to stand out.
If you’re looking for more advice on navigating the job search as an older worker, or some common first round interview questions to prepare for your next role, be sure to watch SCM Talent Group President & ASCM Career Coach Rodney Apple’s webinar “ Strategies for Dealing with Challenges Faced by Older Supply Chain Workers”.