In Praise Of The Over 50 Employee
The other day I happened to come across an old article from the Guardian about an unemployed man who had applied for the same job twice. He applied once using his real age of 50+ and again tweaking his CV to reflect a younger applicant. The result was that he did get an interview for the job with the younger applicant, while the older one who had the same qualifications was told that he didn’t reach ‘the required standard’.
Now while this could be a breach of employment law, which is very clear on the subject of discrimination due to age, the thing that surprises me more is that an employer would knowingly miss out on the opportunity of employing an older worker.
There are many alleged reasons why applicants over 50 are less attractive to an employer than a younger person. There is the longevity of the appointment term for example. In theory the closer someone is to retirement age, the less likely they are to remain with the business for an extended period. OK, in theory this sounds correct but let’s just take a closer look at that. Firstly the pension age has now changed. Most people over 50 will now be looking at a retirement age of 67 at least. Secondly the average person will have 6 jobs in their lifetime. Assuming a working life of 45 years, that comes to 7.5 years per job. When you throw in the likelihood of settled career development in later life well, so much for the longevity argument.
Another argument is that young people are more likely to be technologically savvy. Ah, well here there must be a truth. Except when you consider the first home computers appeared in the mid 80’s. (Remember the Amstrad anyone?) The fact is that far from being less computer aware, the older user probably has as much (and sometimes more) experience with regularly used software such as office. For general work – this argument also doesn’t seem to add up.
What about health? Surely the older worker is more prone to sickness? Statistically this is true. However the sickness rates for all ages have dropped dramatically over recent years and the difference between the extremes of the age spectrum is a matter of a few hours.
I think the point has been made here, so let’s look at the benefits of the older worker. To start with, discrimination because of age is unacceptable in the eyes of the law. Putting that aside, consider the benefits of life experience, job knowledge, often a more stable home life and the reduced likelihood that your employee will go traveling through the Andes or something similar; and you start to wonder why it is so difficult for an older person to find work when unemployed compared to a younger one.
Here at Jobwise we are confident that we treat all our applicants in a way that develops and encourages them. When we suggest candidates for our clients we make that recommendation based on their suitability of the job and not on if they have a few grey hairs here and there.
The experience that comes with age cannot be underestimated. They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but that may be because they already know most of them anyway.