mature aged employment

Why employ a mature aged candidate

by Gabi Anderson Courtney

Job seekers over 40 find it more difficult to secure employment than the younger generation. If you're over 50, your chances are quite slim to be the successful candidate when applying for any job. The only exception would be trying to secure a senior management position with a high profile national or global company, where experience is king.

Why do employers are looking at the younger generation while disregarding the mature aged candidates? Well, a lot of companies want to employ on long term basis. The assumption is that at one point everyone wants to retire, and employers are afraid that they will not get enough mileage out of the new asset. 

The older generation is not as tech-savvy as the younger one, and managers do get concerned that they will have to invest a lot of additional time and effort to bring the new mature aged employee up to speed. Some of them might not even be able to grasp the concept that the majority of the work they will have to do is done digitally, without paper.

In my many years working in HR, once I had to deal with an employee who I had to allocate a full day of training on how to use the GPS. At a different company, a high achieving employee has resigned due to the introduction of electronic time-sheets that had to be submitted from a mobile phone or a computer. She could not, and did not want to move with the times.

These are extreme circumstances, but they do happen.

And on rare occasions, some people are afraid that an older team member will not fit in the culture, where the majority of employees are young.

Knowing from experience, all these concerns can be put to rest at the job interview.

It pays to mention up front that the position on offer is a long term one, and discuss it honestly what the expectations are.

You cannot ask a candidate directly if they plan to retire in the near future, but you can certainly ask if successful, are they willing to sign a contract for, let's say two years.

The truth is, there is no guarantee, no matter what the age of the candidate is, that they will stick around for a long time. If you want them to stay, you will have to treat them accordingly.

If the job is in strong connection with being tech-savvy, include a short test in the job interview. Advise the candidate that they will be required to show their experience in the particular technology that is required for the job, let it be a software program or anything else. If you are interviewing a variety of age groups, it is essential that everyone does the test and no one is singled out on age or any other criteria. I have experienced on numerous occasions in the past, a resume stating that a candidate is an "expert" with a particular software, while not even recognizing the program's icon on the desktop.

When thinking about culture, and how someone from a very different age group will fit in within the team, just think of the job interview. Were they at ease when you advised them about the team? Were they easy to talk to? Did they seem ok with that they might have to report to someone younger?

Mature aged candidates bring a lot to the table; experience, connections, a fresh pair of eyes, and passion. Many of them put their heart and soul into what they do. In some cases, it is what keeps them motivated, passionate and alive - coming to work every day, making a difference and being part of a team. You will never know what diamond you found in the dirt until you pick it up and have a closer look.