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"I've been to every mall, I've gone to the TSA, I've gone through thousands of applications," he said, "but I get the same thing: `Don't call us, we'll call you.'"
Lugo relies on occasional jobs as an extra in movies and television shows to supplement his Social Security check. He has even offered on job interviews to work for free for a week to prove he's worth hiring, but no one has taken him up on it.
"With my experience, I've learned so much," he said. "As a senior citizen, I have a lot to contribute to a company if they allow me, but they never give me a chance."
But older workers are just what Michelle Benjamin, CEO of TalentREADY, a New York-based consulting firm, is looking for. She holds open houses specifically aimed at recruiting them. About three-quarters of the company's senior employees are over 50. They often cost more to hire, Benjamin said, but they don't require much training or supervision, and end up paying for themselves with the quality of work.
"Clients are paying us to get to the bottom line really quickly," she said.
Mintz admits his own age, 82, fuels his support of older workers. But he echoes Capelli, saying he sees daily proof among the older individuals he has hired at Cranford, N.J.-based Tofutti: Fewer absences, fewer mistakes, a greater ability to solve problems and a willingness to put in more hours.
Though workers in highly physical warehouse jobs at his company skew younger, and older employees are not as adept in technology driven roles, Mintz says overall their experience pays off.
"They're loaded with knowledge," he said. "They can teach the young whippersnappers."
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