The incredible power of oldness, just hope you get some…

Some of you might find this a surprise given my youthful looks, but a number of my friends are what many people regard as “old”. Yes it’s true. They’re north of 30 and 40, with some even north of 50 and 60. One of my closest in London is in his 70’s – his partner is 40 years younger than he – the sly devil:)

Sadly, many of these people who have hit the half century, have been trying to get work since the GFC – that’s right. Some have been trying for more than 6 years. Despite their obvious talents and experience – which for example, come in handy when decision-making and strategic direction are needed – they are actively being ignored by the recruitment and HR industry.

The reason they are given for not getting an acknowledgement of their application, let alone an interview, is they are “too experienced“. Australia is the only country in the world in which having lots of experience and all the right qualifications, is a negative trait when looking for work.

Apparently youth and enthusiasm are better for business, than experience and knowledge. Ask any recruiter – many of them are also youthful and enthusiastic. Yet they have the task of hiring people into senior roles, the sort that require experience. It’s an ironic world isn’t it? See earlier post.

Old age

This ageism has become so rampant, the Federal Government has been forced to do something about it. They are paying employers $10,000 to hire a person aged more than 50.

And they’ve created this video and website – it’s about The Incredible Power of Oldness.

One of my favourite adages is; you should always sail with Captains who have been shipwrecked, because they know where the reefs are.

My old boss David Ogilvy advised his managers to “always hire people who are better than you” because he knew the value of experience. Though most manager’s egos won’t allow them to hire people more experienced than themselves. I know one ad agency CEO who refused to hire the right person for the job because as he told the recruiter; “he’ll want my job“. If only the shareholders knew how their money was being wasted.

On numerous occasions I’ve hired people with more experience and paid them more than me. And they’ve never failed to pay for themselves. More importantly they didn’t need training or supervision – and they fitted in fine with the rest of the staff and our clients.

If you want to rapidly grow your business, particularly a digital start-up, you’d be well-advised to leverage the incredible power of oldness, before your competitors do.

I’m off for my afternoon snooze…


  1. CEO’s need to be more proactive when hiring key executives. Most delegate to a 20 or 30 something HR person who then subcontracts a 30 something talent search executive.

    How can these people relate to the experience of someone who is 50 plus?

    Firstly, they are in HR so they have never run a business or a marketing department. Secondly, how can they possibly understand the wealth of valuable accumulated experience gained by someone in the extra twenty plus years that they have not yet lived?

    I.T. manufacturing and financial skills are quantifiable when correctly specified, but marketing know-how and general business wherewithal is a product of years. More fool these companies for missing out on all this experience.

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