Girl Talk Career Blog

May 14, 2010

Companies Need Old-Timers and New Grads

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 4:56 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Think of employees in a corporation as the pieces in a puzzle.  They’re always solving things: problems, possible problems, problem wannabes.  It’s all about working and re-working solutions to make the pieces fall into place.  Consider the success of companies that resolve issues and improve their worth on the stock market versus companies that don’t seem to figure out the puzzle and tank.  Girlfriend,why is that?

One reason may be that companies who succeed recognize the need for different puzzle pieces.  There has never been a puzzle where all the pieces were the exact same size and shape, yet fit together perfectly to make a successful finished product. Puzzles don’t work that way.

Neither do organizations. Or problems. Or people. Frequently I read career articles where writers are hung up on their age. “I’m too old to get a job” or “It’s too late for me to change careers” or “People at work don’t like me because I’m younger than them.” Hogwash.  The organization who hired them is lucky to have them and these organizations  recognize this or that person wouldn’t be working there. 

The reader of a career advice column wrote in to complain that he went for an interview in his particular industry. He claimed to have all the right skills for the job and added that he had been doing a similar job for several years. Then as he waited for his interview an attractive, young woman walked into the office, was hustled in for an appointment ahead of him and he found out later that he wasn’t hired.  He complained to the advice columnist that he didn’t get hired because he was “too old” and she was “young and attractive”.

Wow. There’s a lot of assumption going on there:

  1. She is definitely the hired candidate.
  2. He thinks he’s a good interviewee.
  3. He thinks his skills are as current as they should be.
  4. He’s too old for the work force.

I don’t believe people don’t get hired or do get hired strictly on the basis of age and appearance (unless you are an exotic dancer or an actor….but that is a different type of …”work”…entirely).  There are reasons why corporations should and usually do have a whole mix of executives working for them. Consider these professionals, all of whom are at different stages in their careers:

  1. The Senior Executive – She usually has a position of significant authority.  Perhaps she’s the CEO, the CFO or the Vice-President.  Perhaps she is the regional manager of an organization. 
    What she brings to the organization:  Knowledge. Wisdom. Direction. Mentorship.  When a new fad is whirling around on Bay Street she doesn’t jump at the chance to invest. She’s sensible enough to wait and see about this trend for a few months to a year. She confers with a Board of Directors and is good at taking advice, rather like a Queen and her Council. 

2.   The Middle-Aged Executive. He’s been climbing the ladder steadily for years and if he’s got the right stuff he’s still doing so. Sure things may have slowed down lately for him, after all the incredible explosion in new technology software means he’s got a lot of learning to do. But so long as he keeps on top of that learning and stays in the loop he’s got nothing to worry about.
What he brings to the organization:  Dedication.  Drive.  Contacts. Productive years of work that still lie ahead.

3.  Charming girl-student speaks  by phone by Eduard Titov. The Rookie. She’s fresh out of college or university and has little to no experience at all in the workplace. She has her impressive degree and she’s willing to log long hours to start her climb up the corporate ladder.  She has a lot to learn and she’ll make a lot of mistakes along the way but so long as they are minor and she doesn’t tank the organization’s financial resources she’s a valuable addition to the staff.
What she brings to the organization:  Enthusiasm. Technology. Energy. Willingness to learn from a mentor.

No organization can build a puzzle with the same exact pieces. No one can solve a different problem with the same exact solution from the one before. We need everybody in an organization for it to succeed. Cloning and hiring one type of worker off an assembly line is good for one thing and one thing only:  imminent obscurity in the business world.

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