The Next Generation isn’t the Only Generation of Highly Qualified Candidates
Anna Bramlette | 05/18/2023
Let’s talk about the more experienced, seasoned, and mature job seekers – yes, the over 50 crowd. Age discrimination is unfortunately a pervasive issue in the United States, affecting nearly every aspect of life. However, in today’s job market, it’s baffling why companies still refuse to give older Americans a fair chance when recruiting and interviewing for open positions. While it’s illegal to blatantly discriminate based on age, it still happens. As we face the ongoing “Crisis for Talent” and organizations struggle to find qualified candidates (often with little success), it’s time for action. Let’s stop overlooking these highly qualified job candidates and give them the consideration they deserve.
According to Zippia, 12,965 age discrimination claims were filed in 2023. The cases filed in 2020 and 2021 accounted for 21% of all charges filed. However, the actual number of instances of age discrimination is much higher, as more than 50% of employees who witnessed age discrimination did not report it.
Types of Discrimination
There are a few ways in which age discrimination can occur: through job eliminations, promotions, and hiring practices. All of these practices are illegal and constitute age discrimination.
- Job Elimination
When companies want to terminate an older worker, they may claim that the position has been eliminated but then hire a younger employee to fill the role. Older workers may also be targeted for layoffs or forced into early retirement.
Similarly, some employers may choose a younger, less experienced candidate for a promotion instead of an older, more qualified one. This is often done to pay the younger employee less and is a form of age discrimination. In some cases, companies may use specific language or experience requirements in job ads that prevent older workers from applying, or they may target ads to specific age groups on social media.
- Hiring Process
Alternatively, age discrimination can happen before the employee is even hired. This happens when older candidates are overlooked or not hired for a multitude of reasons. This could include being close to retirement, being too expensive, or even because companies may think those employees will be “set in their ways”.
The “Cost” of Seasoned Candidates
Having more experience comes with age, of course, so experienced or seasoned candidates will naturally cost more. This is a real reason why some companies turn the other cheek to older applicants. However, this is an antiquated excuse. Younger employees may be just as expensive because they may have the added expense of children to provide for. This is especially true if the company provides healthcare coverage. Furthermore, employees over age 65 are covered by Medicare, so they wouldn’t require the basic benefits that companies offer.
The False Assumption of Anti-Adaptation
One of the reasons companies overlook seasoned candidates is the false assumption that those potential employees will be “set in their ways”. They may also assume that older candidates won’t be able to adapt to the work environment. This is an unfair and invalid assumption. The older generation in the workforce has spent their entire work life adapting to changes in their careers and companies! They didn’t get to this point in their career without adapting.
How can we change this?
Only a small percentage of companies (8%) have plans to promote diversity in hiring. Although older applicants are given the same interview opportunities as their younger counterparts, they are less likely to be offered jobs (40% less likely) even if they have similar skills. To tackle this issue, companies can show their commitment to attracting candidates from different age groups by including age-diverse photos, graphics, and content on their website. Also, it is advisable to avoid using job description language that could be considered ageist, such as “tech-savvy” or “digital native.”
This talent pool has so much to offer. They have the experience, skills, past training, and resilience to work any job. They can also serve as great mentors and are likely to have a larger network of contacts and more extensive knowledge of the market. Seasoned candidates are not ones to overlook; they are quite a valuable asset to any company. Stop overlooking them and see how you can advance your company to the next level with the value that these potential hires can add.