Firms Miss Out on Older Talent

For 10 years I've subscribed to several magazines in the same genre as yours. "The People Problem: Labor Solutions" (April, 2000) is the first article I've seen that addresses the older engineer.I retired from a position as manager of engineering at 66. I quickly found that hobbies are boring if they are the only reason for getting up in the morning.

10/01/2000


For 10 years I've subscribed to several magazines in the same genre as yours. "The People Problem: Labor Solutions" (April, 2000) is the first article I've seen that addresses the older engineer.

I retired from a position as manager of engineering at 66. I quickly found that hobbies are boring if they are the only reason for getting up in the morning.

I set out to market myself, which I never had to do in 42 years of holding technical positions with an MS of Engineering. Following the advice of seminar speakers and multitudes of how-to articles and books, I used the letter-resume method to market myself-to no avail. Not one of the firms or agencies I contacted had the courtesy to acknowledge my application.

I'm now a very healthy and alert 75, and it's been only in the last year or so that I can claim a modicum of success in a consulting engineer capacity. While I realize that my self-marketing may not have been the best, I've observed that the management of engineering firms often precludes hiring older engineers as either employees or consultants.

Rather than hire an older engineer, large and small firms hold on to a core of people for making proposals and remain unwilling to invest in developing people they can count on. Only when they win a project do they go out on the street looking for people. For economic reasons, large firms look to hire supposedly moldable new graduates with a current education. Small firms offer moonlighting jobs to employees of other firms. Both large and small firms advertise in the hope of stealing employees from other firms.

None of them look in their files for people who have applied in the past. In more than one case my letter-resume was less than three months old when several firms I had applied with advertised for a position that was almost a clone of my resume, and I never received calls from any of them. When I called them, they had either already hired or promised to review my application.

When successful engineers get old, they do not lose their engineering skills ... most older engineers are computer-literate and quick to learn. They have a lot to contribute and are willing to work for younger managers.

There are also excellent economic reasons to hire an older engineer. If he is retired, he usually has a base income and would be willing to work on call for a reasonable rate or to accept a trial-run employment offer. He would be pleased with employer-supplied supplemental health insurance. If he has a wife or dependents, his acceptable hourly rate would be influenced by the availability of employer-provided health insurance plans even if he had to share some cost.

I can state with certainty that investing in an older engineer would be most beneficial to any employer.

ABRAHAM PERSON, P.E.





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