Even though there are legal protections that ensure that candidates cannot be discriminated against by things like race, gender, etc., as a hiring manager you still have expectations for who your employees are and what they’ll be to your company. When you’re hiring for an entry level position, you’re likely looking for a recent college graduate. When you’re hiring for a senior manager, you’re usually looking for someone with decades of experience.
Often those expectations play a role in the hiring process, even if you’re not doing it consciously. While in some cases they may be unfair, they also reflect a reality – you generally do want a younger person in a role that requires less experience, and an older person in a role with more authority, because younger people have more room to grow and older workers tend to command more respect.
How Much Does Age Still Matter?
But one of the main reasons in the past for caring about employee age was that companies were trying to hire individuals that would stay with a company their entire lives. They’d hire young people in entry level jobs and hope that someday they’d be CEO. They’d hire older people in higher level jobs because they want to use that experience before the individual retire, and take advantage of some of their prime years knowing that this may be the last job they have.
But the economy has changed dramatically, and the way people interact with their workplace has changed with it. Now, the average employee only keeps their job for about 3.3 years. That’s three new jobs every decade.
On the one hand, this implies that companies aren’t doing enough to keep their employees motivated to stay with the company – and that’s true. Employee satisfaction levels haven’t necessarily been a priority for companies in decades, despite playing a direct role in employee tenure. But it also means that employee age isn’t necessarily a big factor in employee success anymore:
Technology changes so quickly that experience with something 5 years prior is no longer experience. Younger, inexperienced workers may have the same abilities as seasoned workers. Hiring based on age and experience may not be as important.
The economy is such that many capable experienced workers are in need of employment, and apply to positions that used to traditionally be for younger workers. Because of the frequency of employee turnover, hiring the younger worker simply because of their age may not be necessary, as both employees would be expected to leave in the same amount of time.
Fewer and fewer jobs require any physical strength or the ability to interact with others professionally (two skills generally associated with different age groups). Now, all that really matters is production and work ethic, as most employees do their work alone on a computer.
Health maintenance has improved as well, giving experienced workers far more working years. Meanwhile, younger workers are learning faster than they ever were before, allowing them to gain a considerable amount of experience in a shorter time.
Hiring Based on Age
The reality is that hiring practices have changed significantly, and who you hire has to be based on more than their resume and age. There are so many factors that go into a great employee, and while age could still play a role, it’s role is going to be seen in things like work ethic and learning ability, and not necessarily something that’s inherent in age alone.
If you’re ready to start hiring better employees regardless of age, contact Recruit Shop today – Australia’s leading recruitment service.