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Friday, December 02, 2005

The Aging Workforce: AESC Members Respond

Reprinted from the AESC website

The Aging Workforce is a hot topic and one in which AESC member firms and their clients are actively engaged.

The Electronic Recruiting Exchange recently published an article titled "The New Generation of Older Workers". Please
click here to read the full article. Here there is reference to an article published in BusinessWeek titled "Old. Smart. Productive". Please click here to see this article.

In response to these articles, the AESC asked its members to discuss the issues surrounding the aging workforce and the implications that it has on executive search and future hiring. Here’s what they had to say:

I agree with the article. People do want to work longer. Those who have
retired are increasingly candidates for searches. I remind myself to track
down the best, wherever they are or whatever they are doing (overseas or
retired). The search firm does have to "make it happen." In a recent
case the candidate didn’t "have to" work; he was bored and missed the
camaraderie, and my client had a hard time with that concept, they wanted someone who needed the pay check. I was told recently that on Wall Street you are dead if you are over 55. So I believe that while I see "retired" people being
brought back in for top leadership roles that are hard to fill, it is only happening when there are less competent younger people around. The demand for temporary workers, at a senior level, will increase. The question for the buyer of the service is how to vet these candidates.

Linda Bialecki, Bialecki Inc.

I see Bridgestar's role in the future as seeking the right skills at the right
time to do the job to further the mission of a nonprofit. One tangible thing
that we're already seeing is that senior people sometimes want to build their
second career differently than their corporate/for-profit career. For example,
they may not want a 50 hour per week job - but perhaps the nonprofit needs very
high level CFO skills only 50% of the time and couldn't afford someone like that
on a 100% salary anyway. I hope that we'll play a role in helping organizations
figure out how to successfully integrate these people so that TOGETHER they
reach the organization's goals and potential.
Kathleen Yazbak-Chartier, Bridgestar, An Initiative of The Bridgespan Group

Brainpower is in short supply, which makes identifying, attracting, and
retaining it a core recruitment challenge. We've found no correlation between
brainpower and age. In our work, we look at values, brainpower, and ability to
lead and execute as the core criteria for selection. If you're fortunate to find
that combination in a candidate, who cares about what age they come packaged
J. Kevin Day, Day & Associates

Given that unemployment is low, it is fair to assume that there will be a
continuing demand for the skills of experienced and well educated boomers so
that they can work into what used to be considered retirement years.
There are two complicating factors which might make this less easy than it appears. These are:

Hidden age discrimination, especially from the high tech industry, where many of the industry leaders are very young. In some cases this may be as simple as not relating well to those of a different generation in their personal style and general outside interests. The trend to import bright younger employees into this field from Asia coupled with off-shoring of much IT work to locations where there is a large and growing supply of well educated and low cost technical skills, will diminish the demand for experienced baby boomers and reduce their pay potential through price competition.

On the other hand there are a number of opportunity areas:
Smaller firms who cannot afford to employ full time well-experienced technology managers, but need broader experience and judgment than might be available from raw recruits can be one opportunity area, especially for part time or consultancy work.

Interim management opportunities are often well served by such experienced people. They may be overqualified for the job, but often their broad experience and flexibility can be a great asset here. There are young professional interim managers too, but there is room for more including those who have kept their skills up to date, from the boomer generation, as this is a growing sector.

For those of an entrepreneurial bent, there are opportunities to establish their own businesses, to use their wide experience in consultancy or software development. If the latter is the choice, niche areas, less prone to off-shoring, need to be the focus.

Lastly, for those with high level experience as CEOs, or CTOs, there may be opportunities on Boards of mid-sized corporations or even larger firms, depending on their individual profiles. Many boards have age limits, but sustaining these is becoming increasingly difficult as the gray lobby is ever more powerful and discrimination suits more threatening.

The great news is that more and more firms are recognizing the power in this experienced talent pool. We are often asked to include more boomer candidates, as they have wide experience, and often work very effectively with less absences and distractions. The essential things for boomers wanting to work on are: to be
flexible, never stop learning and to maintain high energy and openness to new
ideas and ways of working.

Chris Clarke, Boyden Global Executive Search

Source: AESC Marketing

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't believe a word this "gent" has to say. Have you ever read "The Emperor's New Clothes"? This man lives, breathes and sells it. Unfortunately an entire enterprise was sold on his every word - I highly doubt for all their expertise in the C-level recruitment field, they truly vetted this guy. A bag of manure if ever there was one.