Meeting the midcareer moment

Every moment is a crossroads. But for midcareer workers everywhere, the diverging paths ahead are especially stark: if we choose to recognize the talents of this group and help them adapt to workplace disruptions, we can prosper together. But if we stick with the status quo, a bad situation will only get worse.

That is the key takeaway from a global survey—the first of its kind—to provide an in-depth view of individuals age 45-60 seeking or working in entry-level and intermediate roles. Critically, these insights are consistent across all seven countries in our survey, highlighting an unexpected shared reality for this cohort.

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Of age 45+ job seekers we surveyed 63% are unemployed for more than a year vs. only 36% of age 18-24 job seekers

An unwarranted bias is at work

Hiring managers have a negative view of age 45+ job seekers.

Hiring managers strongly favor younger job candidates over age 45+ individuals. Indeed, according to hiring managers, the younger group greatly outperforms the age 45+ cohort in every area of evaluation. Asked to rate candidate strengths, employers overwhelmingly say younger candidates are more application-ready, have more relevant experience, and are a better fit with company culture.

Hiring managers’ perception of age group strengths:

Most Experienced
  • 18-3424%
  • 35-4458%
  • 45+18%
Best Fit
  • 18-3441%
  • 35-4444%
  • 45+15%

But employers rate highly the job performance of people age 45+ they hire.

Asked about the performance of age 45+ individuals compared to their younger peers, employers respond that 87% of their age 45+ hires are as good — or better — than younger employees in terms of their overall performance on the job. They add that 90% have as much — or more — potential to stay with the company long term. This highly favorable job performance is comparable to that of the 35-44 age group, even though the younger group is far more appealing to hiring managers than age 45+ individuals.

Job requirements have gone up

Our survey finds that employers have raised job requirements relative to one to two years ago. Requirements have become more stringent for 73% of entry level roles and for 63% of intermediate level roles.

Those in under-represented communities work much harder to get a job offer.

66% lowered their expectations

And the majority were looking for something else in the first three months on the job.

Training is key to midcareer success.

Training is valued by employers and 45+ individuals who have successfully switched.

Across the countries we surveyed, employers view reputable training and credentialing as being able to equate with years of experience in a job with adjacent skills, giving them more confidence when considering hiring an applicant. Employers’ appreciation for training is shared by age 45+ individuals who have successfully switched jobs, a group that regards training as a significant step to employment. Among these switchers, 74% say that attending training helped them to secure their new position.

But those who need it the most are hesitant to pursue training.

Of age 45+ job seekers in our survey, 57% say they are not excited to pursue training, and less than 1% say that training makes them feel confident. Among those who are not keen to pursue training, 62% have a secondary school education or less, and 71% have just enough income — or not enough — to meet their daily needs.

74% of midcareer switchers found that relevant training helped them secure their new position

More than anything, people want a good job — not just any job, but a good one.

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Where we go from here:

  1. National governments and global multilaterals can publish unemployment statistics with narrower age brackets.
  2. Practitioners and policymakers can link programs directly to employment, and provide stipends, to support age 45+ individuals who are hesitant to train.
  3. Employers can change hiring practices to get a clearer view of age 45+ candidate potential and talent.
  4. Employers can make it easier to fill new and revamped roles with existing age 45+ employees, instead of relying solely on new hires.