I recently received an email from a job seeker looking for advice (and to have a bit of a well-deserved rant). He is 52 years old and has been searching for work for 6 months. In that 6 months he has not progressed past an initial screening interview and has only managed to get two of them.
Sure, maybe he isn’t the right candidate for the roles he is applying for, there is always the possibility that someone better applied for and got the job but every single time he has asked for feedback and every single time he was told he wasn’t the right fit for the job. Now I am not saying that every role has discounted him due to age, I’m sure there have been various reasons for not progressing but, let’s be honest here, ageism does exist in recruitment.
Here are some reasons to expand your candidate pool to include older workers and a few myths that I have heard.
Reason 1. Greater range of skills and experience
An obvious one but older workers have been in the workforce longer. All that extra time in the workforce brings experience. With experience comes knowledge. This is going to make training easier and less expensive for your business. They will most likely pick up the role quicker and be a productive employee in a shorter time frame than a less experienced candidate.
Reason 2. Mentorship
Older workers make for great mentors, using all of the additional skills and experience they have, they can pass on valuable knowledge and skills to your younger/less experienced work force. No company wants to face a skills gap in their workforce.
Reason 3. Work ethic
Older candidates tend to have a much stronger sense of work ethic. They are rarely late. They take pride in their work. When employers are making generalisations about generations, this is one that tends to be forgotten.
Reason 4. Confidence and communication skills
These candidates started their careers before instant messaging, emails and texts became the go-to. It stands to reason their written and verbal communication is finely honed, it needed to be. They also have the confidence from their experience to put forward ideas when it is appropriate to improve.
Reason 5. There are incentives available
While I am unsure of incentives in other countries, Australian businesses have incentives available to them for hiring older workers.
Myth 1. They won’t stay long, it’s just the last step before they go enjoy retirement
Job hopping is prevalent in younger job seekers, it is much more likely hiring an older worker will result in a longer tenure, commitment and stability is something that’s important to that generation. Put a younger and older job seekers resume side by side, who has the best tenure?
Myth 2. They won’t be a good cultural fit
Maybe your company workforce is mostly between the age of 25-40. Maybe you have a highly social culture. Well, there is no rules that once you reach a certain age you instantly stop socialising. Also, if you are worried that an older worker won’t be able to keep up with the younger crowd, please keep in mind that all that life experience has most likely given them quite a few interesting stories to share and I have met quite a few older people that are downright party animals.
Myth 3. Poor stamina
As I mentioned above, the older generation generally has a strong work ethic. Also, in terms of physical stamina, there is a 60 year old at my gym who puts me to shame EVERY SINGLE TIME. Assuming an older person does not possess the mental or physical stamina is a mistake. If you are concerned that they wont be able to handle the job, do some objective assessments prior to ruling them out. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Myth 4. Poor computer literacy
There are so many courses and resources available to help anyone up skill their computer skills and a lot of the older generation have taken advantage of these. Also, keep in mind that many lived through the introduction of technology into business, so they are the original early adopters.
While I know there are many more reasons and myths around to hire an older worker, these are just a few of the thoughts I had, please feel free to share your own reasons and myths.