Any form of stereotyping and discrimination in the workplace is not only frowned upon, but also unlawful in many parts of the world. As recruiters, we have seen it all. Let me rephrase, as recruiters, we have been asked to screen it all – gender, personality, qualifications, dress style, hairdo and makeup, heck, even horoscope.
One form of such discrimination we have been seeing a lot of, is on the basis of a candidate’s age. Ageism is a relatively new term coined a few decades ago. This can be applied at both ends of the spectrum – Young and old.
It seems like in this day and age, the majority of available job vacancies are targeted for candidates aged between 25 – 50, depending on the level of the role. Youngsters feel discriminated against on the basis of either not having enough experience, and the older crowd is looked upon as not worth the investment considering they won’t fit well in a younger team, their boss will be younger, or they will soon retire. Both scenarios couldn’t be further from the truth.
This stems from the notion that employees are expected to stay with a said company for an X amount of time in order for them to have any value. Sure, no company likes a high staff turnover, but even if you get a couple of years of solid service from an employee, they will have done their part. In any case, it is up to each individual employer to retain their employees through challenging work, growth opportunity, monetary incentives, and a good culture.
With regards to the employability of the youth, it is treated as a nuisance – Junior candidates (Millennials and Gen Z) are unjustly perceived as difficult, entitled, and even lazy. Quite possibly, the only exception is digital marketing agencies that actively look to hire a younger team as it correlates better with their vibe.
Furthermore, more and more employers are shying away from taking responsibility of training the workforce of the next generation. They expect candidates to be readily available with the right amount of skills and experience. Well, the economic crisis has since subsided and unemployment rates are down, thus, most of these “suitable” individuals are already employed. As an employer, you need to be willing to put time and effort to hone a person’s skills to fit your company.
On the other hand, more seasoned candidates are generally seen as “old dogs” who are not willing to change their ways and learn new skills or a different style of doing a job they have done for years. In an ever-changing job market, believe me when I say that everyone of any age has had to adapt in order to persevere. Additionally, why turn away someone who comes with a wealth of tried-and-tested experience. Sure, given their veteran status, their salary expectation may be out of budget, but you’ll never know if you don’t give them a fair chance to plead their case at an interview.
My advice? Be open to considering candidates of all ages. You never know what value someone will bring, irrespective of their age. Break down the barriers of a rigid job description, and screen candidates on an individual basis. Judge someone by their character and what they could possibly bring to the table, as opposed to something as trivial as age.