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The Age Factor: Hiring the Younger or Older

Guest Author: Scott Murray

The Age Factor Hiring the Younger or Older

It’s the age old question…how much should age matter when hiring a new employee?

There are many traits you should look for when hiring a new employee. Work history, history education, and experience are all relevant factors you should consider when deciding who is the best candidate for your organization. However, it seems that many enterprises are missing out on great employees because of their age.

Obviously, recruiters can’t say that they didn’t hire someone because they are too old or young – there are age discrimination laws that prevent that. Hiring managers can skirt these regulations by using generic reasons like “it wasn’t a good fit” or “their objectives didn’t align with the company’s.” Below is a look at why some recruiters discount some applicants because of their ages.

Too old
Some older members of the workforce have had a difficult time finding employment in the last few years. The Urban Institute recently reported that people 50 and above were 20 percent less likely to find work than their youthful counterparts between 2008 and 2011. Additionally, senior employees earned less than their old wages if they managed to find new jobs. Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that the age group struggles to find work in today’s marketplace.

“There is really no demographic age group that has as much difficulty getting back in the job market if they lose a job,” Van Horn said.

It’s also noted that a government report shows why employers are hesitant to hire senior workers. Many recruiters worry that older applicants will demand high salaries and raise insurance costs while having minimal computer skills. Instead, some businesses opt to put a premium on youth because recent graduates can use most devices with little training and don’t have the leverage or experience to ask for high wages

Too young
That said, young employees also face discrimination when it comes to finding a job. Some companies don’t just want cheap help – they want experienced workers who can contribute from day one. According to The New York Times, recruiters don’t think that graduates are developing the right skills while in school. As a result, businesses are letting young workers “grow on someone else’s payroll.” Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t appear that many recent graduates are finding work anywhere. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 13.1 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds were unemployed in February 2013.

Businesses are hurting themselves and the workforce by making decisions based on age. What young workers lack in experience, they usually make up for in motivation. Recent graduates want to prove themselves, so they usually go the extra mile for their employers. On the other hand, senior employers understand what it takes to contribute to a staff immediately and help a company achieve its objectives.

Never discriminate against someone because they are too old or too young. Only look for important qualities like education, experience and passion. Your next great hire may be fresh out of school or only three years away from retirement.  What’s important is you hire that person, not someone else because he or she is in a different age bracket.

Scott Murray is the Social Learning Evangelist for, the web’s largest career marketplace.  He is also a contributor to the Training Insights Blog, a series of blogs dedicated to career and professional development.

Image courtesy of (njaj) from

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