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Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to Recruit Older Workers

The job of recruiters is harder now than ever. Considering that the age difference of today's workforce can span more than 50 years, recruitment campaigns must reach across four different generations, attracting job seekers with completely different values and perceptions about work, family and everything in between.

To cast recruitment successfully into the mature worker segment, forget vanilla recruiting tactics and nine-to-five jobs. If you want to grab the attention of workers 50+, consider the following tips from experts who share their experiences about what works and what doesn't.

Be strategic: know your target market
Recruiters often assume that there's a monolithic, one-size-fits-all strategy that reaches all workers, says Annette Merritt Cummings, vice president and national director of diversity services at Bernard Hodes Group, a NY-based recruitment communications company. So they mistakenly budget one lump sum as opposed to dividing resources into demographic segments.

"Each group requires different strategies when it comes to recruitment," she says. "Don't write this group [older workers] off. It's a huge market of individuals who have huge amounts of knowledge that may go untapped."

She recommends these steps when recruiting mature, experienced workers:

- Analyze your market. Ask yourself a series of questions. What are the differences between the mature worker segment and others? How do they prefer to communicate and receive messages? What are the media habits of workers 50+?

- Realize that even within the mature worker segment, age matters. Never assume that the preferences or habits of sixty year-olds will be the same as those who are in their seventies or eighties.

- Identify their favorite social spaces, including virtual spaces. Focus on print and online publications that cater to the 50+ market segment. Look into social organizations like college alumni associations, churches, synagogues or veterans’ groups. Also check out listservs as well as blogs, job banks, and other online places that serve as popular gathering spots for mature, experienced workers.

- Build relationships. Reach out to retirees who have the experience and skill sets your company desires. Market your business as an age-friendly workplace that values mature workers and provides career opportunities for growth and leadership. To reach retirees, Cummings says you may be better off targeting organizations they're affiliated with and communicating with them on a more personal level, something that’s not nearly as important to younger generations.

- Appoint someone in your organization to head up a mature worker recruitment program. This individual would be responsible for acquiring the expert knowledge on the mature worker market, sharing it with others in your organization, communicating with older workers and tracking results.

Click here to read part 2 of this article

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