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May 19, 2011
10 Good Reasons to Hire a Grown-Up
 
As part of a close-knit creative department, the copywriters and art directors were used to walking into each other’s offices to borrow awards books, the latest Adweek, or some not-well-hidden-enough stash of chocolate. Ed usually had the best collection of all of the above, so it wasn’t surprising we were in his office even when he wasn’t there. What was mildly surprising was that he had left his driver’s license on his desk. But what was completely incomprehensible to us was what we saw on his license: his date of birth. Doing the math, we late twenty-somethings figured out that he was (gasp) Over 40! How could this guy who looked to be our age and was in the creative department possibly be So Old?

It wasn’t so much that he looked our age, although he did indeed choose his parents wisely. It was more that we never saw anyone over 40 at the agency except for the president and the executive creative director, and possibly a few old ladies (who might even be pushing 50!) who processed payroll. It certainly never occurred to us that some day we might be Over 40 ourselves.

There's a whole generation of creative folks who are now over 40, and apparently all of them are commenting on a recent post by Steven James on the Age Old Question. They are justifiably ticked off about age bias. Here’s the deal, though. All that effort is wildly unproductive and could be channeled in a much more effective way. How could folks so good at crafting messages and getting the word out about brands be so bad when it comes to marketing themselves?

So here’s what I'm proposing. Let’s get the word out to HR directors, hiring managers, and fellow creative people about the advantages of hiring a creative north of 40. To do this, we need to be clear on them ourselves. So I suggest:
  • Read these before going into an interview for a shot of confidence and to know how to answer the age question. 
  • Add your own suggestions to the comments below.
  • Pass this on to others. Link it in your blog.(You do have a blog, don't you?)
Advantages to Hiring a Grown-Up:

1. We know how to have real conversations. We didn’t grow up texting each other. We like talking in person and know how to speak on the phone. We can speak extemporaneously and know what it means. And we listen.

2. When we’re working, we’re working. Our job is not our social life. We’re not looking for love or a hook-up at work and we don't spend hours texting and flaming others about it because we don’t care.

3. It’s nice to have a Grown-Up on the team. Consider this scenario: your top client is waiting in the conference room and the projector just broke. Who do you want presenting with just a white board and a marker: the grown-up or the recent grad?

4. We've seen it all before and have perspective. We’ve seen clients freak out, servers go down, and BlackBerries go in the toilet (literally). As long as no kittens, puppies, or babies were harmed, we know these can be fixed and It Will Be OK.

5. We're done with the babies. We may have kids, but for the most part, they are past the keep-you-up-all-night phase. No matter how youthful you are, running on no sleep day after day is going to affect your performance.

6. Loyalty. Not interested in jumping around. Again, been there, done that.
 
7. We’re on time. Perhaps it’s because we still wear watches.

8. We understand the bottom line. Most of us have either consulted or had our own business, so we understand being responsible with the company’s money.

9. We’re good mentors. Everyone talks about the importance of mentors. There's no substitute for a ton of experience, both in work and in life, to make you a good one. 

10. If you're advertising to the biggest, most powerful, wealthiest demographic (Baby Boomers), who better to come up with the advertising? 

What advantages would you add? Reply in the comments below and forward to some people who need to know.

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As the editorial director of Mojo40.com, Susan Kim’s goal is to help people over 40 get their career mojo back with content that is helpful, entertaining, and free of marketing-ese like shifting paradigms. She previously was the creative director at advertising.com (AOL). You can connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter.
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