Older Executives Increasingly Prized By Firms

Workers age 50 and older could soon pass their younger counterparts when it comes to finding new jobs in the shortest amount of time. That trend may indicate an end to age bias in hiring older workers, suggests international outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The median job search time for managers and executives over age 50 has dropped 10 times faster than that of their younger rivals over the last three quarters, according to a Challenger survey of discharged executives. While the job search time for both groups has dropped since the fourth quarter of 2002, the drop for the over-50 worker has been much steeper, down 19% compared with a 1.8% reduction for younger job seekers. "The economy is still weak, but companies are slowly beginning to add workers," notes John A. Challenger, the firm's CEO. "However, they only want those who can begin contributing without costly training and disruption to customer service. Such an environment heavily favors experienced managers and executives." With the substantial decline in job search times for over-50 executives, the two age groups are in a near dead heat in search times -- four months for the older worker versus 3.8 for younger crowd.

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