Wouldn’t it be great if we could all hire a 40-year-old with 20 years of experience? They’re perfect, right? They have 20 years behind them and 20 years or more ahead of them. Well, there are only so many of those folks to go around. In our business of supply and demand they’re being careful to make smart and timely career decisions, as well they should.
However, what if I told you that the pool of talented and experienced people is greater than you’re thinking? It is! In fact, it’s much greater with even more experience.
Let me get to the heart of the matter. There are a growing number of “Baby Boomers” in their late-50s and early- to mid-60s who have all those attributes and more. They want to work and contribute. To pass along their knowledge gained through successes and failures.
Over the past year, I’ve had a number of conversations that have led me to this article. On one side, I’m speaking with a growing group of candidates who are frustrated with their challenges and apparent prospects of getting hired. Specifically, these are people with amazing experience, track-records, desire, attitudes, wisdom, relationships, and maturity. So, how does one achieve all that? Easy! You live and work long enough. It happens to all of us, if we’re lucky.
Quite often, I find that this group has “climbed the produce ladder” to success for years, but now want to do the stuff that they really love. For instance, a salesman who worked his way up to VP of Sales and now wants to go back and do what he loves: sell!
On the flip-side of the equation are employers who want to hire someone for 20 years. Why invest in an employee who is going to leave in five to seven years? It’s a good question to ask.
My contention is that we need to hold onto great “produce people” and make sure that we fully realize their value before they hang up their spurs and ride off into the sunset with all the valuable knowledge, wisdom, desire, and energy that they are aching to share.
The opportunity here can be approached first with an open and transparent conversation, and then a relationship with this person. Let’s call him “Joe.” So Joe, what are your long-term career goals? Where do you see yourself in five to seven years? How would you feel about participating in your succession? Would you help mentor this person or team to take your place? Can we agree to be transparent and work together to maximize your contribution and ultimate departure? (NOTE: Please be careful to not ask questions that can be considered as age discrimination when having this conversation.)
How refreshing this could be, right? I’ve run this scenario by five or six “Baby Boomers” who love the idea. They want to openly address the issue and be a solution, not a problem. They want to continue to contribute and perform.
Employers: Look around! Hiring someone for 25 or more years does not happen as much any more. 401(k)s are transportable, and attitudes are different. Look at the gap in talent and experience. Look at how long people are living, both active and healthy.
You’ll find that some of these people are looking at job titles and compensation that are less than what they had in the past. I’ve found that many want to do what makes them happy, and they’re perfectly okay with a lesser title and/or compensation. Again, talk about all this openly.
This is an opportunity to tap into a great resource here!
Some employers are already thinking in this way. They are open to hiring experienced and talented people. Just recently, I’ve heard: “Find me a great guy who has even three years to go, and that can help us drive sales and mentor my group for the future.”
And I only expect to hear this sentiment more.
Rex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe Produce, was born & raised in Salinas, CA. His 28 years in the produce industry includes positions in senior sales, marketing & management for some of the industry’s leaders. Rex and his team truly understand that finding the perfect “fit” is about more than matching a skill set with specific job requirements.