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Can You Feel It?

Hiring decisions can be based largely on intangibles

As a mature job seeker, one of your greatest selling points is your experience. While you may be able to quantify in number of years, experience is not something that you can hold in your hands.

The same can be said for any number of other qualities prominent among older job seekers. It’s a long list. On that list you can include: punctuality, reliability, attitude, work ethic, etc., etc. And what do all those traits have in common? They’re all intangible.

A job seekers treasure trove

A major benefit of hiring older workers is something known as institutional knowledge. For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, defines it as “the combination of experiences, processes, data, expertise, values, and information possessed by company employees. It can span decades and comprise crucial trends, projects, perspectives and that define a company’s history.”

There are two key points in that definition. One, “it can span decades.” Translation: older workers. Two, while they state that it “define a company’s history,” institutional knowledge can extend far beyond the confines of a single company. That kind of knowledge can be applied to a different companies in different industries. There is no limit.

What falls under the rubric of institutional knowledge? According to, institutional knowledge can include “personal stories, skills, and intuition-based learnings that are more difficult to communicate. This type of knowledge can often be transferred through trainings and mentorships.”

“It’s one of those sleeping giants most people don’t think about,” Dr. Andrew Peña, assistant vice president for human resources at New Mexico State University, told Crain’s Detroit. “If you don’t do something proactively today, you’re going to be stuck with employees who know basic tasks but don’t have that institutional knowledge.”

They say that you can’t Google experience. And you can’t acquire institutional knowledge on the internet, on social media, or through any other digital transference. There is only one way to get it. And you’ve got it.


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