Age Factor in the Job Market—Another Look

As a retained search consultant heading an executive search firm, a CPA and someone who's over 50, I agree with the survey results ("Age Still a Factor in Job Market," JofA , Mar.99, page 16) showing a longer job search for older job seekers. However, I have also seen a number of job candidates who use such figures to excuse their own poor skills. Age becomes less of a factor when candidates appear energetic, nondefensive, and computer-savvy.

The figures are also a warning for younger workers to grow capabilities along with their years. For example, a 55-year old CPA should have more to offer than one who is 20 years younger. If not, there might be a temptation to blame age discrimination.

I met a man many years ago who was in his seventies and seeking work. I asked him who he thought would hire him. His response was, "I have something to offer that few others have—I can be the CFO for a company that has a number two person not quite ready for the top slot. I can train and nurture that individual. And because of my age, I will be far more effective than a younger person since no one will be threatened by me." He got that position.

Stanley Herz
Somers, New York


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