When an aging Baby Boomer sees himself (or herself) in the mirror, who does he see? The aging worker…or the youthful contributor?
A series of photographs by Tom Hussey, an award-winning lifestyle advertising photographer, vividly captures what is surely going through the minds of many Baby Boomers and the older Veteran generation. It sure reflects how I feel. Why else would this 65 year-old Boomer be called “the Gen Y in the Baby Boomer body.”
The idea for these photos first struck when Hussey was talking to a WWII veteran named Gardner. On the cusp of his 80th birthday, Gardner opined that he still felt like a young man.
In speaking with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, clients, and even complete strangers, the perception and context of aging is changing. Many Boomers like myself just don’t feel “our age.” We look back at how we viewed 60 year-olds when we were kids and even young adults. But many of our classmates and peers seem to look, feel, and act so much older than us.
The paradox of age doesn’t stop at 60.
We recently celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday with a family reunion and party. That’s nothing special these days other than my mother looks, feels, and acts younger than nearly all her peers. In fact she runs circles around most people 20, 30 and even 40 years youngers – evidenced by her recent 3 week cruise and tour to Europe and Scandanvia. Her much younger travel companions barely kept up…and in fact, passed on several sidetrips because they were too tired.
But at the party, we had shocking revelation. One of my cousin’s young daughters asked to “toast” my mother with a song. About 10 years old, she introduced her toast saying that she selected the tune because there were so many “elderly” people in the room. She got a big laugh… and a few sighs. Someone asked her how old was elderly: “Over 30,” she said!!! That of course, put everyone under 50 in their place.
Hussey’s photos intended to capture how many older people see themselves. Of course, many older people see “elderly” people looking back. But many of us see a much younger image looking back.
But what if his intention was reversed? What if the reflection in the mirror is looking back and seeing a much older image living his live? You, of course, know someone who is young but looks, feels, and acts old. I’m not talking maturity here. I’m talking about a young body and old mind and lifestyle.
These perceptions (or should I say misperceptions and stereotypes) about age are causing major rifts and challenges in the workplace and society. You have the Boomers and older seeing youth looking back while young adults might be seeing elderly people, hanging on for dear life to their jobs and vitality.
In reality, it is all true. Boomers are getting older..and many act every bit their age. Others act more like young people than even some Millennials and Generation X. How we see ourselves and how others see us has always been a challenge. But with four and soon to be five generations working side-by-side for the first time in history. understanding how age impacts productivity and influences lifestyle is challenging everyone to look beyond the numbers and see each individual for his and her real value.
There is a brewing technological storm threatening to eliminate hundreds of jobs and leave millions of workers without a paycheck. Can a collaborative robot save the day?
Listen to this podcast when futurists John McElligott and Ira S Wolfe discuss why robots, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and other advanced technologies probably won’t destroy occupations and jobs as quickly as many experts forecast. But exponential technologies will certainly disrupt and change how work gets done.
You might find this optimistic forecast odd coming from the guy whose company just created Robo-Rista to serve up coffees and lattes and Vincent van Gogh-Bot to draw sketches of customers.
But York Exponential CEO John McElligott believes the immediate future features a collaborative interface between technology and human workers. “We don’t automate,” he insists. “We augment. We want to make sure that our robots are not taking people’s jobs; they’re saving jobs.”
While many companies are struggling to recruit, hire, and retain Millennials and Generation Z, Generation R(obots) will likely be the real story. “We’re creating the 1st generation of humans and robots working together,” McElligott shared during my podcast.
But unlike the computer revolution that helped make humans more productive, humans will now be expected to return the favor and help advance the productivity of technology. That’s good news for workers as the jobs they do won’t be 100% automated but augmented.
But for those expecting to sit back and pick up a paycheck while Mr. Robot does all the work, you’re kidding yourself. Augmentation means new and better skills will be required. McElligott has got that covered too by launching what he calls “the 1st generation of responsible disruptors.”
What should businesses expect when it comes to recruiting in 2018?
The answer is pretty simple—it’s going to be a humdinger!
If there was any doubt that a shortage of skilled workers exists, 2017 extinguished it. A combination of economic growth, falling unemployment and the lowest labor participation rate since 1978 is creating a “perfect labor storm.” Despite lots of rhetoric, neither government nor academia can provide an education/retraining to employment solution fast enough to fill all the open positions today. C-Suite frustration and anxiety was revealed in a recent Mercer Talent survey when 92 percent of employers believed the competition for talent will be fiercer next year. Nearly 8 out of 10 staffing and recruiting professionals revealed the same during a recent webinar I presented—recruiting in 2017 was more difficult than past years.
What’s a company to do? Despite this gloomy and challenging outlook, many companies make the situation much worse than it needs to be by using antiquated, cumbersome, unfriendly recruiting practices, processes, and applications. There are a number of quick fixes that most organizations can implement to attract and hire more qualified workers faster. They won’t solve the long-term problem but for the time being, they can give some breathing room. Here are just a few trends and recommendations.
Think talent network. Most companies start from scratch each time a new position is opened. Why not build a network of potential candidates? According to some pretty impressive research about candidate behavior done by CareerBuilder, 80 percent of candidate visitors will join your network if asked. And 85 percent of them will leave a resume. Since more than 80 percent of candidates are passive (they already have a job), a talent network gives those not-yet-ready-to-switch-my-job candidates time to get to know you. Careerbuilder research found that candidates apply 63 days after they join! Building relationships doesn’t happen overnight but it’s well worth it. Having the ability to reach into your network can significantly reduce time-to-hire.
First impressions matter. Many companies are finally getting serious about leaving the dark ages of recruiting and designing and branding career pages that engage candidates. Unfortunately most of them do not extend the same attention to their job posting page. That’s a massive misstep because only 7.5 percent of candidates come through the “front door” (aka the company career page.) Most applicants are directed straight to the job details page from another source and these pages are often dull, boring copy-and-pasted job descriptions. Like the content on the customer-side of a website, even the job posting pages must include content that grabs attention, engages the candidate, and encourages them to apply.
Obsess about the candidate experience. Ninety-three percent of applicants don’t make it past the job description. Ninety-five percent will abandon the application if it is more than 2 pages, especially if viewing and completing it on a mobile device. Jobvite found that the abandonment rate jumped from 16% with 10 or fewer questions to nearly 50 percent with 20 questions. If it takes more than 15 minutes to complete an application, rates drop by a staggering 365%! Create a candidate friendly application. Ask only for the information you need to qualify (or disqualify) a candidate. When he or she meets you minimum basic qualification that is the time to ask them to complete the multi-page application and/or submit a resume.
Long live people analytics. Analytics isn’t the holy grail but it’s game over for companies that attempt to acquire and manage talent without it. More importantly real-time reporting is a critical. Companies capture ridiculous amounts of people data but deny and ignore the predictive intelligence that lies within it. Tracking the number of career site visitors and completion rates for applications are two simple and yet essential metrics that few companies have at their fingertips. Time to fill open positions is increasing dramatically and it is made much worse by unnecessary recruitment pipeline delays and inefficiencies. When seeking difficult-to-find top talent in the proverbial jobseeker “haystack,” frequent marketing and recruitment adjustments are essential; doing it without real-time reliable reporting is like playing “recruitment roulette.”
With best candidates gone within 10 days after they hit the job market, companies must create a great first impression, engage and stay engaged with candidates (even those that don’t fit today), and build a robust talent network.
It’s time for business and its HR professionals to get their recruiting “SHIFT” together. In his newest book Recruiting in the Age of Googlization HR Futurist and employee selection expert Ira S Wolfe describes how the automation of jobs and work makes it seem like science fiction is taking over the workplace and is consequently disrupting traditional talent acquisition practices.
Ira S Wolfe’s new book Recruiting in the Age of Googlization acknowledges the shortage of skilled workers is very real. But he places some of the blame for under-performing talent acquisition squarely on the shoulders of management. He cites the lack of evidence-based recruitment and employee selection, the unfair bashing of Millennials, and a job application process that is completely out of touch with today’s labor and jobs marketplace.
In Recruiting in the Age of Googlization, ($19.95, Motivational Press, December 2017) Wolfe first paints an authentic yet terrifying picture of how technology and demographics is disrupting jobs and work as we know it … and as a result is transforming how organizations will attract, acquire, and retain talent. He writes, “it’s just like science fiction is jumping off the pages of reality.” Wolfe deftly describes how automation and disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and 3D printing will revolutionize the way we work, live, and play. It is within this new world that Wolfe dissects the traditional recruitment pipeline and offers a step-by-step guide to improve talent acquisition and job search.
Throughout the book Wolfe offers compelling examples and key point summaries. He suggests three trends that he believes will blindside many businesses and workers within the next five years:
Jobs will be automated faster than anticipated.
Automation will not be limited to low-skill jobs.
The impact from automation will disrupt work, careers, and jobs greater than expected.
Consequently, Wolfe forecasts massive disruption in the ways businesses acquire top talent and workers seek jobs. To help anticipate and navigate the disruption, Wolfe offers a library of provocative strategic questions each organization or individual must be asking.
“When speaking and working with clients, I’m continuously shocked by how many organizations perpetuate common recruiting blunders,” says Wolfe. “The world of work is changing exponentially faster than most people realize and that in turn will intensify and accelerate the competition for skilled workers.”
Recruiting in the Age of Googlization; When the Shift Hits Your Plan ($19.95, 250 pages, paperback, ISBN:978-1-62865-464-6) is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at many independent and online booksellers or by calling 800-803-4303.
Ira S Wolfe has more than 20 years’ experience helping organizations recruit faster and hire smarter. He has passionately covered shifting job and labor markets since the late 1990s, a period he called The Perfect Labor Storm, through what he now describes as the Age of Googlization. He’s a popular expert for journalists and podcasters, an avid blogger, TEDx speaker, and president of Success Performance Solutions (Lehigh Valley, PA).
The days when video games were for kids are over. According to the ESA, 27% of gamers in the US are over 50! Older adults are embracing games because they both fun and cognitively beneficial. A study from the International Journal of Disability and Human Development showed that the older adults who played video games showed markedly less cognitive declinethan the control group. So if older people are reaping the benefits of playing games, surely it stands to reason that they can also try their hand working in the video game industry? The US unemployment level for over 55s is 3.1%, showing that this demographic are either unwilling or unable to give up work just yet. Instead of retiring, many people in middle and old age are opting to change careers. If you are an older gamer and want to make your passion your profession, here are a few ways to break into the gaming industry.
Gaming Education Going back to school is not essential for a new career in gaming, especially if you already have experience in a related industry. However, taking a course will benefit you not only by teaching important skills but helping you make contacts. Many of the top US schools for game design recommended here have connections with top gaming companies, helping you get your foot in the door. As an older adult, you may already have a degree so a short course or a Masters could be a better option for you.
Network offline and online As an older adult, one of the advantages you many have over your younger peers is confidence and social skills. While younger people may be unsure of themselves you have many more years of experience managing social situations, whatever your first career has been. Use this to your advantage. Attend gaming networking events in your area and showcase your people skills and professionalism. Whilst you may not have contacts in the gaming industry itself, you may well know people in related industries such as computer programming who can advise you or introduce you to their contacts. In addition, make your online presence stellar; unfortunately some people hold the mistaken presumption that older people can’t use social media so you have to prove them wrong! As expected of this industry, most gaming professionals are active on Linkedin and Twitter so try to make connections through these channels. The great thing about the internet is that it’s equalizer: there are no gatekeepers, and age is not a factor in how well you can make use of it.
Consider the Indie Game Industry It’s an illogical prejudice but the fact remains: the gaming industry has frequently been accused of ageism. Hopefully this attitude will lessen as companies recognize that hiring older people is the best way to make games that appeal to the increasingly older player demographic, but for now there is no doubt that prejudice exists. If you are encountering barriers, perhaps consider the indie gaming industry. This is where much of the most interesting innovation in gaming is happening and smaller companies may well have more progressive attitudes towards diversity. It’s also now easier and cheaper than ever to make a game yourself. Whether you do it solo or with a small team, making and promoting your game is not only a wonderful creative outlet but a great boost to your resume.
While some things may be more difficult for older adults breaking into the gaming industry, it should be clear that your life experience will give you the edge in other areas. Ageism will only prevail if no one stands up to it, so let’s challenge preconceptions and show people it’s more than possible for older people to have a successful gaming career!
Submitted by Guest Blogger – Jess Walter, Freelance Writer