There has always been a debate about whether to hire older or younger workers. I can definitely say with conviction: It depends. Some of the factors to be considered are:
The level: Is the function a training position or at an executive level?
The situation: Does it need an experienced hand or not?
The time: Is the timeline for results short or long, or is time of no importance?
The criticalness: Is the job critical to the success of the organization or not?
The directness: Does it directly affect results or is the function in a support role?
The backup: Is this function a stand-alone or is there backup staff if needed?
There are more factors, but the organization needs to define the parameters beforehand.
Usually are short-timers as they are anxious to move up their careers more quickly
They want to please the boss, which could be a positive or negative
Are typically less sure of themselves which could lead to procrastination, or quick actions
They can be too sure of themselves without the research or due diligence necessary
Are more moldable to fit the style or culture of the organization
Ambition may affect performance of the team or work group
Will need more training, direction, performance reviews and coaching
Less expensive in pay than more experienced employees
Hard skills are advanced but soft skills are undeveloped
May drive co-workers crazy with questions or the need for more of their hands-on time
Usually are lower maintenance: Set objectives, strategy, periodic reviews, then results
Tend to have more patience and can train or mentor others… or not
Tend to be more loyal and longer-term as they have families and house payments
Handle stress more easily as they have “been there, done that”
Understand the implications of actions, so they tend to plan better with alternatives
Hard skills may need sharpening but soft skills are more advanced
Contacts, networks and support systems may already be in place
Have a performance track record and reputation that can predict future performance
Tend not to get discouraged at the first roadblock, and will work through it
Have an experience base from which to draw solutions: Not their first rodeo.
Age and experience brings with it a level of confidence to the job. Youth bring with it enthusiasm, newer skills and a sense that anything is possible. The hiring organization needs to understand what it needs and what kind of employee fits the criterion.
From the applicant’s perspective, the position description and certain word-clues will identify what kind of candidate has the best chance to succeed. Sometimes the industry, company or function will give you a clue. Moral of the story: Focus on your strengths. Whatever the outcome of a single application, keep looking for your ideal position. It’s out there somewhere.
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