Hiring Older Workers in IT
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines discrimination as “harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age;” I have personally interviewed hundreds of people as part of a hiring team. The only protected category I have heard other interviewers voice concerns about is age. The New York Times article Older Workers Without Jobs Face Longest Time Out of Work shows that older workers are less likely to be unemployed, but when they do become unemployed, they are unemployed longer. I think we have gotten this wrong in the United States.
I have hired several employees older than myself, usually against some vague concerns of my colleagues. I didn’t hire them, because they were older either. I hired them, because I thought they were the best. The older employees that I hire are from the Baby Boomer generation. The Baby Boomers have characteristics that can be very attractive to an employer. According to About.com, Baby Boomers have the following characteristics.
- Work Centric
- Goal Oriented
I have agree with the first three. I don’t think I have seen these workers as overly competitive. I have seen two other generalized traits that I think can be a great asset. Older workers tend to be more patient and less impulsive. I think this has more to do with age and experience than a generational difference, but hot headed employees can cause big problems for managers. The other interesting characteristic is that they seem to be more accepting of hierarchy and accepting of my role as the manager than other employees, again as a generalization. In short, I ended up with less job related headaches from the older employees than other employees.
While I wouldn’t hire someone purely, because they are older I do see the value in experience. There is also another selfish reason to reverse this trend. We are all getting older and if I am looking for a job, I hope I will be judged purely on my qualifications. The next time you hire keep this in mind.