Part 2: The pros and cons of hiring a senior employee

A few weeks ago, we touched upon a topic that is particularly important to us: the barriers that some employers put up because of the age of the candidates – namely, them being too old… or not old enough! If you haven’t already, I suggest you to read the first part of our reflection on the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a junior employee.

As recruiters, we’ve developed the skill set to recognize the characteristics and talents in each candidate, but it’s not as easy for everyone else. We also know that different age groups and levels of experience can add great value to an organization. What’s important is to start by taking the time to recognize the particular needs of your business and leave your prejudices out of the equation.

In this second part, we talk about senior employees, the other age group that often suffers from hiring biases. *

* Beware of stereotypes! The ideas presented here obviously do not represent all the senior employees and are only based on our own research and observations.

The pros of hiring a senior employee

Up and running faster. As senior employees have more experience, the required training time is shorter and the actual work can begin quite quickly. Depending on the industry, an experienced employee could be functional and bring value to the company from an early start.

Lower error rate. Thanks to their greater experience, senior employees are less likely to make mistakes that can sometimes be very costly to a company. They know the essence of the job, they are familiar with the challenges they will face and the problems that they have already had to solve in their careers.

Stronger emotional intelligence. Apparently, older professionals would have more self-awareness and better communication skills. Their leadership is stronger, and they can more easily establish their authority and credibility toward other employees and clients.

Larger professional network. As they have more work experience, older employees naturally have a bigger professional network. They also often have more developed interpersonal skills, all this making it easier for them to establish and maintain connections in their industry.

They give the right example. In terms of attitude and behaviour in the professional sphere, seniors are very familiar with the corporate culture and usually have no problem understanding the realities of workplaces.

More confident. Unlike most junior employees, seniors have great confidence in themselves and their capabilities because they have many years of success behind them to assert their competence. This enables them to overcome challenges with calm and confidence, as well as be more open and receptive to feedback.

More stable. Senior employees often turn out to be a less risky hiring choice because, at this point in their career, they know what they are looking for in a job and employer. They are less likely to change their minds and leave after a few months. Contrary to the belief that “it is not worthwhile to hire a senior when looking for the long term”, many are looking for stability to end off their career, versus younger employees who are still in the race to the top.

The cons of hiring a senior employee

Harder to adopt new practices. It makes sense: when it’s been 20 years of successfully doing things in a certain way, changing that is not always easy and doesn’t always seem logical. More experienced employees may experience more difficulty adapting to new processes or be more reluctant to change.

Harder to adopt new technologies. In many cases, older employees do not show the same ease with technologies and the same reflexes to turn to digital tools as younger employees would.

Higher salary. Obviously with the experience comes higher salary expectations. Note that this does not necessarily mean that it is more expensive to hire a more experienced employee. If you think about the savings in training time and the decreased error rate, among other things…

Could be less versatile. Being already specialists in their work, senior employees will not necessarily feel the need (as a young employee might) to develop new skills, so they may be less open to having tasks assigned to them that deviate from their area of expertise.

Could be less flexible. In terms of conditions. At this point in their lives, older professionals often have obligations that will influence their choice of employers. For example, if they have a house, they may not be willing to relocate, or, if they have a family, to work overtime.

In short,

As mentioned above as well as in the first part, it’s important to remember that these points are only generalizations that we’ve laid out to help employers detect and recognize characteristics that could fit their needs. These ideas do not represent all junior and senior employees: recruitment is always case-by-case as all candidates are unique humans.

The important thing to remember is that each generation has its share of benefits to offer and that all that really matters is to find candidates who can help us grow and achieve our goals, regardless of what age they are. And as always if your company needs help on this side… Proforce is here to help you!