As a design engineer with over 20 years experience, I am slowly learning that the cost of doing business today is forcing employers to make tough personnel decisions. Profits are down, and the expense of benefits and other employee costs are eating away at many companies bottom lines. But I never imagined that industry would ever get so bad, that employers would ever consider choosing workers with lower salaries, over those with a wealth of experience.
Unless you are independently wealthy, or else if you live on a tropical island with an abundance of bananas and coconuts to live off of, you probably work for a living. As workers, we tend to latch onto our experiences as accolades which define what we offer to employers, in exchange for the almighty dollar. Sure, there are other factors; education, accomplishments, titles held and awards won, to name a few. But classically, nothing has held more water than the word "experience."
The "E" word is representative of everything that has brought you to where you are in your career, regardless of education, awards or anything else. Experience, says, in one word, that "I did that", "I was there", and "I made that happen." So why then, are so many employers forgoing the chance of enlisting experienced workers toward they corporate cause, in lieu of finding more affordable workers?
It's a painful reality, especially for someone like myself, who prides himself on his work and his experience. Companies would rather spend less money on workers that they may have to train, rather than spend more cash for those who can hit the ground running.
It used to be that very experienced workers were the target of start-ups; those tiny, garage-borne businesses who worked off of very little capital, and even less time. But even small start up companies are willing to deal with less-experienced workers to save a dime. What's distressing about that is the idea that experience carries with it both innovation and inventiveness -- keys to getting a small start-up off the ground fast and efficiently. Edison said it best: "If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." This is the mark of experience.
Today's economy is expensive for sure. But remember that what drives business forward lies in the years of experience that your workforce provides to you. If you thin out your herd too much, you may be losing the ability to outrun your competitors.
Experience may be costly... but losing out to competitors with more experienced workers will cost you even more.
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