Jacksonville 904 — April/May/June 2017
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Office: Age Appropriate
Jake Gerken

Age Appropriate

It often seems youth rules, but middle-aged job seekers have powerful cards to play

Job seekers over 40 have a more difficult time finding employment than younger candidates in most of the country. Recent research from the University of California, Irvine, found that the call-back rate for résumés with a middle-aged applicant was significantly lower than those for young applicants. Recently, tobacco company R.J. Reynolds directed their recruiters to avoid candidates with eight to 10 years of experience. As a result, only 19 of the 1,000 people hired for the open positions were over 40.

But job seekers over age 40 are actually quite competitive in the job market in the greater Jacksonville area and in Florida as a whole. According to Jennifer Merida, branch manager for Adecco Staffing in Jacksonville, the time has never been better to be over 40 and looking for a job, and there are specific reasons why.

Experience counts

“Everyone wants experienced candidates,” says Merida. “The main thing right now is that the ball is in the job seeker's court, especially in regard to older and more experienced candidates. They tend to have more of both hard and soft skills that can be utilized and actually have a better shot of getting hired.”

Also, according to Merida, many older candidates have proven track records, which speaks volumes not only to their abilities, but also to their longevity within the company.

Anthony Gunia, manager of web and app operations for Tata Consulting Services, agrees. It wasn't too long ago that he found himself in the same unsettling position as many other Jacksonville residents— over 40 and looking for a job. However, to his surprise, he actually found that this helped him tremendously in regard to the preferred experience.

“If anything, I would say interviewers grilled me more on my vast experience compared to an inexperienced younger person,” says Gunia. “This benefited me in that I was able to show my worth as a 'seasoned' IT administrator and how the company would benefit from hiring me over someone who was younger with less experience.”

Hiring is nothing

new We've all been there: the first panel interview. Sitting helplessly at the far end of a long table while emotionless faces throw out question after question under the sterile fluorescence of office lights.

Of course, for those over 40, the hiring process is business as usual.

“Again, older candidates actually have the advantage here,” says Merida. “EspeCially since many of them have already gone through the hiring process more than once in the past.”

According to Merida, during the interview it’s important that you know the job and are prepared for what's to come. Also, a working knowledge of the company you are interviewing for is paramount to good showmanship.

“They also need to show that they are competent, likable and have all-around good communication skills. Their inner strength and their ability to remain calm is going to be important during the process, and just the fact that they have the courage to take risks and be direct. These will all certainly expedite the hiring process,” says Merida.

Technological literacy is important

“We have noticed in Jacksonville that we are doing a phenomenal job of keeping up with the various technologies of the day,” says Merida. “What we've seen is that many of our older candidates already have a lot of experience with the newer technologies.”

For Merida, most candidates, young and old, have adapted to the demands of the 21st century. Granted, younger candidates may be more privy to the latest waves in technological innovation or social media apps, but that's only because they are a little more exposed to them than older candidates.

Sharpen your edge

Although candidates over age 40 have several advantages over their younger counterparts, there is still room for improvement. One aspect that both Merida and Gunia identified is social media.

“Social media is huge right now in hiring candidates,” says Merida. “It's just the world we live in. We get our news from it, we communicate through it, and now we're hiring from it.”

In a recent Way to Work survey, Adecco found that Facebook and LinkedIn are the top two social media platforms people use when researching potential employers and vice-versa.

“A major difference for many older individuals is in the way employers search for candidates, and how they treat resumés and applications,” says Gunia. “Most employers now look to utilize online job sites such as Monster.com, Glassdoor.com and LinkedIn.com to find candidates. These tools did not exist when I was younger. No longer do you search in a local newspaper—all jobs are online.”

What's important here is that job seekers present themselves appropriately on these platforms. Many employers are going to use these platforms because they want to see the candidate, and many times they will judge the character and qualifications of the candidate based on how he presents himself on these various social media websites.

According to Merida, employers are going to want to make sure the candidate will fit in with the culture of the company. “Going into the future, social media is just something you're going to have to use,” she says. “Companies are trying to attract the best of the best candidates, and the way they are doing that is in a creative way and that is through social media.”

Quiet, Please

The hidden power of introverts in the workplace

It comes as no surprise that most workplaces cater to the extrovert—those who speak up and quickly make friends tend to be the ones who seem to get ahead. However, you don’t have to be loud and demonstrative to succeed. In fact, many CEOs are introverts. Among those include Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

1. They use their quiet nature as an asset. “When your ears are working twice as hard as your mouth, that’s a good thing,” says Rich Thompson, chief HR officer at the Adecco Group. By using the power of listening, they make other people feel heard. Since introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, typically they are more thoughtful and considerate people.

2. They’re able to stay focused for a long time.
By giving themselves quiet time to work, they’re more able to effectively contribute to the team. “The tip is to be present and be collaborative. At all times, authenticity has to be there,” Thompson says.

3. They form deeper connections. “Walk around a bit more, spend more time at the coffee pot and eat in the lunchroom. It can change the perception people have of being introverted,” says Thompson. By connecting with just one person, an introvert can cement a long-lasting relationship that can carry them forward in a career.



Results of a recent survey by the National Safety Council revealed that 70 percent of businesses reported that narcotic painkillers have affected work at their companies. The dangers associated with opioids like fentanyl and other prescription medications can harm a business’ bottom line in myriad ways. Companies need to be aware of what they are dealing with and prepare for the worst-case scenarios. Here’s how:

• A written policy. Prepared by a legal department or outside source, a clear and concise company- wide policy should be established, similar to guidelines and restrictions on the use of alcohol or illegal drugs.

• Employee education. Keeping in mind that relationships between employees and their physicians are confidential, company staff needs to be educated about the dangers of opioids in the workplace. That includes information about the dangers of operating heavy equipment while on medication and the severe risks of sharing medications.

• Supervisor training. Managers need to be current on a workplace’s prescription drug policy and educated on how to identify possible employee abuse. Management staff needs to understand that persons with disabilities are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and, as such, their rights cannot be infringed upon.

• An Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The cost of helping an employee who might have a problem with opioid abuse typically is significantly less than replacing that person. Not only does a business suffer the loss of knowledge and productivity from an employee it might terminate, by doing so it may also be placing someone in a dangerous position to himself or family members.

• Drug testing. Research has shown that drug testing in the workplace can significantly reduce the number of accidents. Employers need to be aware that recently, with the easy access of synthetic urine over the Internet, there are ways to skirt the system. Presently, only 14 states in the U.S. ban the sale and purchase of synthetic urine.

To read more about how the opioid crisis is affecting Northeast Florida, read the April 2017 edition of Jacksonville Magazine.

Jacksonville Magazine recognized 30 local companies for their charitable contributions during its annual Companies With Heart luncheon on February 21 at Veterans Memorial Arena. The guest speaker for the event was Adecco Group chief of human resources Rich Thompson. Each business was presented with a plaque in honor of their charitable work. Kuhn Flowers provided the arrangements and one guest from each table was awarded the centerpiece. Those in attendance were also treated to mini cupcakes provided by Sweet By Holly. —PHOTOS BY KRISTIN IBISON

Women Business Owners of Northeast Florida hosted its signature event UNSTOPPABLE on March 16 at the UNF University Center. Guests were treated to a dessert reception to accompany the casual networking. Each attendee picked a piece of candy as they entered and were grouped by candy type. The afternoon continued with guests speakers such as Baptist Health Foundation senior vice president Audrey Moran and principal of Sandler Training Jacksonville Michele McManamon. The program also featured UNSTOPPABLE power stories from women business owners, presented in the Pecha Kucha style. —PHOTOS BY KRISTIN IBISON