Betty White is a living legend. Her first television appearance was in 1939 as a dancer. Since then, she’s been nominated for 33 awards and won 27 times. She’s even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female)”.
Granted, Betty White is a towering figure in the entertainment industry. But many of us mere mortals also have amazing skills and talent. So, if television networks aren’t afraid to hire a 91-year-old to star in a show, why are recruiters afraid to hire workers over 50? And why do older workers sell themselves short? Let’s take a few tips from Betty:
Push Those Boundaries
Betty White isn’t a one-trick pony. Her most famous characters were a man-eating happy homemaker (Sue Ann Nivens), a ditzy retiree from St. Olaf, Minnesota (Rose Nylund) and most recently, a fierce hellion (Elka Ostrovsky). Between these shows she appeared on numerous other shows. Lately she’s starred in an award-winning Super Bowl ad and hosted Saturday Night Live (“SNL”). At 88½, she is still the oldest host in the history of SNL and won a Primetime Emmy for her efforts. She even stayed for the SNL after-party, where she received a standing ovation and hung out with the cast and fans until 3 am.
How many senior citizens do you know who are willing to try anything and have this kind of stamina?
Recruiters, start talking to older workers and you might just be surprised. The same people who never trusted anyone over 30 are now over 60. They bring a wealth of experience and they’re often up for anything – just like Betty White.
Candidates, if you’re a 50+, are you pushing your boundaries? Or are you stuck in your glory days? Take a cue from Betty and get out there and go for it.
Joy at Work
Betty White brings joy to everything she does. You can always see that gleam in her eyes – on and off stage. She also has interests outside of work and takes great joy in volunteering. She adores animals and has worked tirelessly as an Ambassador to the Animals at the Los Angeles Zoo since 2006.
As a recruiter and a Career Transition Workshop volunteer, older workers often surprise me. The best hire I ever made was a supply chain HR Manager who was well into her 50’s. She exuded energy, a positive outlook, and a passion for servant leadership. If she’s still working at 90, I’d hire her again!
On the other hand, lack of energy and enthusiasm can strike at any age. We all know how demoralizing a long job search can be. But it doesn’t help to be disengaged, aloof and treat organizations and companies as though they owe you something. This is a victim mentality. No one wants to work with someone who is fundamentally unhappy or who appears to be presumptuous. Recruiters and hiring managers can sniff this out within the first few minutes of an interview. Channel some Betty White positivity to increase your opportunities.
Betty White is often seated in her TV scenes. Let’s give her a break – she is 92!
It’s true that as we age we get more aches and pains. Most of these can be alleviated with a minor accommodation. Candidates need to be outspoken about what workplace modifications they need to do the best job. Companies need to remember that they often have a legal obligation to engage in an interactive conversation to find a reasonable accommodation.
The main thing is to stay healthy and active – and follow Betty White’s tips for living a long and happy life.
A Few Final Thoughts For Hiring Managers
If you had the opportunity to hire someone with the breadth and depth of experience of Betty White, would you? Here are some ageist comments recruiters often hear:
“Not sure they have the stamina.”
“Not sure they can learn new things.”
“Might not understand our technology.”
Guess what? Betty White is older than sliced bread. Really. Betty White was born 6 years before sliced bread was invented. And she sure isn’t stale! So, the next time an older, experienced candidate is available, please take a hard look at him or her. You might just be hiring your next award-winning performer.