In the tech world, 40 is, in some ways, the new 60. We may be living longer and many of us now want to work longer as well, but fortune favors the young. Ageism is a citadel of discrimination on which we still need to launch a steady assault. Maintaining quality employment throughout the lifespan of a career can become increasingly difficult as the years accrue. Eventually, ageism affects us all.
But HR professionals and recruiters are in a unique position to examine the conscious and unconscious biases in hiring, promoting and keeping older employees. Wendy Sachs, content strategist and author of "Fearless and Free: How Smart Women Pivot and Relaunch Their Careers, " joined me on the Disrupt Yourself podcast to share her job hunt experiences and why you should tap into the over 40 talent pool.
Older Candidates Have a Lot to Offer
In 2014, Sachs lost her job. She was over 40, and the job market was different than what she had encountered just a few years earlier. Still, she was targeting enterprises that she felt offered the most opportunity for her moving forward.
"I was going around to what I call the 'bright and shiny media startups' in New York City thinking, 'Ah, this is where I need to be. This is where it's happening. It's social media—this is the future and I need to get into it.' I had a career clock in my head ticking, thinking, 'I'm over 40. The window is closing to get in on this,'" Sachs told me in our interview.
She also described the generational disconnect she discovered—she was not only older than the people who were interviewing her, but also at least a decade older than everyone else working there.
"I had what I thought was really incredible experience. I had done so many interesting things and yet they couldn't figure out what to do with all of that. They were impressed, but they weren't hiring me," she said.
Why You Should Hire Employees Over 40
Sachs is capable, qualified and brings a lot of expertise to the table. She is well-versed in today's technology, but that alone wasn't enough to bridge the gap.
That's because there are other issues older workers face besides keeping up with new tools. A colleague of mine recently mentioned that her son-in-law, a successful tech startup entrepreneur, says he is suspicious of anyone who interviews in a suit and tie, a subtle but impactful manifestation of ageism. After all, we're not likely to hire someone we don't trust. But for HR professional and recruiters, this is a missed opportunity.
One of the tenets of personal disruption is to play where others aren't playing, or in this instance, to hire where others aren't. A new penny may be shiny, but that doesn't make it any more valuable than an older penny. On the contrary, with age comes wisdom. If you can find an older candidate who has lost their sheen because of age, but brings work experience, years of accumulated soft skills and the hunger of a twenty-something, snatch them up.
When looking at the resumes of older employees, be open minded. Realize that though some roles or techniques may sound outdated, it's likely that their experiences can be reframed, contextualized and reapplied to the modern day workplace. New technologies or processes can be learned, but the foundational qualities that certain candidates possess could be specific to their generation, and hard to find elsewhere.
Photo: Creative Commons
Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.
Empowering Employees by Learning & Development at Amplifon
Learning and development strategies must continue to evolve in the ever-changing world of work. Training and development provide employees with a softer landing into change, and the introduction of digital learning and development platforms allowed employees a smoother transition into a new style of work. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation.
Howdens shares how they grew learning by over 500% in one year
Charlene Jackson, HR & Payroll Systems Lead, shares how Howdens moved from traditional classroom based training, to grow learning by over 500% in just one year through the introduction of a simple, modern user experience, accessible from any device.
4 tips to managing diversity and gender equality in your company
If you want to generate success in your company and work in a harmonious environment, then you need to consider each and every one of your employees, get to know their interests, and offer them the best treatment and commitment. However, one of the most important principles that should be commonplace in every organisation is the equal treatment of employees (regardless of gender, race or religion). Gender, for example, should not be a factor that influences how we treat our workforce. Having a gender equality policy shows employees that they are valued and that the company is serious about ending discrimination. Having a fair remuneration policy that is not distinguished by the employee’s gender, but by their job position and their development within the company is an important step towards gender quality too. Opt for a gender-diverse workforce Having more gender diversity in a company is very positive and not just for the company’s own benefit. In fact, the UK could boost its GDP by 9% if the female employment rates matched with Sweden’s for instance. The challenge for HR departments is to successfully and strategically find and enrol more women in their business. It could solve a real problem, breaking barriers of gender discrimination in the workplace and promoting equality within the company. Equality between your workers is essential It is important to not only review the salaries of your employees, but also other professional aspects such as career plans and promotions, ensuring that there are equal opportunities for both men and women. Equality will undoubtedly be a motivational element for employees, regardless of their gender, as having clear objectives is a contributing factor in maintaining employees’ interest levels Strike a balance between work life and family life Fostering harmony between work and family life is key to attracting and retaining talent. It can contribute to the company culture, and to a positive attitude and collaboration amongst employees. Another important point is not to make sweeping generalisations about different genders, and instead to consider the specifics on a case by case basis. Employees need to see that their family life is considered and respected. They will appreciate this and it will likely improve company loyalty in the long run. HR must ensure gender equality in their company HR’s role is essential in managing and promoting gender diversity within the business. They must ensure that the motivation and commitment of their employees is strengthened, which, in turn, strengthens the workforce overall and benefits the entire company.