Recruitment and any other HR matter can open a can of legal worms. Without knowing what you should and shouldn’t say you can cause an offence at every turn. As an established team of recruiters we are aware of the rules and regulations regarding recruitment, but in this digital age we are seeing the candidates getting younger and younger.
With the tech teen entrepreneurs becoming multi-millionaires overnight, what does the future look like for the rest of us… deemed ‘out of touch’ at 35? In many cases it’s not that far off the truth.
The question is, why do so many companies carefully eliminate older candidates from the selection process – sometimes without a truly valid reason? In a recent search for a senior IT role, a number of the candidates we identified were in their mid forties through to early fifties – perfectly experienced and capable, but because they didn’t have an IT degree, many shared with us that they had been turned down for other similar roles on this basis. If you look back to see what IT degrees were available and worth doing in the 80′s, the choice was relatively slim and somewhat irrelevant to today’s technology. Many people went into hands-on IT engineering apprenticeships and worked their way up. As for being ‘in touch’ with the latest technologies – if a career in IT is someone’s passion, they are very likely to have kept up-to-date with the latest and greatest coding languages and methodologies. With extensive workplace experience and understanding, the ability to learn a new ‘language’ is potentially easier. Of course, one reason that mature candidates are not selected is due to ‘cultural fit’ i.e. the rest of the team is younger, so it is deemed that an older person may not fit in. This is somewhat understandable, but the counter-argument is that a more balanced team, in terms of skill-set, personality and experience will likely bring the best of of everyone and create a better synergy. There is also the fear that ‘old habits die hard’ and that a mature candidate may have an outdated way of doing things. Again, this is understandable, but the counter-argument is that provided the person is forward-thinking and progressive, their experience will enable them to avoid any pitfalls and see things from a broader perspective.
It’s not all doom and gloom for more mature IT candidates – we recently saw success in a placement of a Frontend Developer for a leading company with a candidate who had just celebrated his 60th birthday… The company’s feedback was purely ‘the best for the job – a great interview and solid experience’. We hope that this trend continues!
With an ageing IT work force we feel that ‘age’ can be embraced as an asset – not just for the sake of it – as we believe that the best candidate should always get the job regardless. But perhaps with a slight shift in mindset employers can tap into a huge pool of talent that has been somewhat overlooked?