In a recent conversation with a HR specialist regarding the hiring of people of “age”, this is what I was told …. “It is a generally accepted fact that applicants age 50 and over are simply not as capable of keeping up with the current marketing/social media trends often required in today’s workplace.” – HR manager (32 years of age)
I know that severe bias exists regarding aging Americans. I hate it. Obviously because I’m one of them, but more so because it is flat out WRONG. This skewed mindset has hampered some of the best people for the job … from getting the job. So. Many. Times.
I would like to dispute that mindset. LOUDLY.
But first, I would like to ask the younger generation the following question:
Do you think you could start (and run) a successful business without the Internet, smartphones, computers, Google, emails, faxes, voicemail, social media, blogs, Skype, or videos?
Because that is exactly what the “not as capable” generation did.
We were masters of networking, promotion, advertising, presentations and budgeting. Very careful budgeting. Because, back in the day, to have a business, we actually had to rent office space, furnish it, staff it, and equip it with phones, typewriters, adding machines and supplies, and place a yearly ad in the Yellow Pages so people could find us.
Today, all you need to start and run a business is a laptop, a smartphone, a website and social media.
We forged forward without all those advantages and built a myriad of successful businesses, big and small. And we did it the old fashioned way; with unmitigated courage, savvy, stamina, footwork, risk, budgeting and postage. Lots and lots of postage.
More importantly, we understood the importance of relationships in business. Real face to face conversation. Something that is often sadly missing in businesses today.
Not as capable? I beg to differ. You cannot underestimate the generation who found their first job from the employment section of The Times, hand delivered a typed (on a typewriter) resume, and had to find the destination on a Thomas Guide Map.
We are the same group of people who studied and learned about history, life, and vocation through school, encyclopedias and the public library.
In other words; we did it the hard way. And we rocked it.
Technology today has not been a challenge for the 50+ workforce. In fact, they embrace the digital age. I don’t have a peer that doesn’t own a smart phone, iPad, Surface Pro device, laptops and desk top computers. Nor do I know one that doesn’t engage actively in at least one forum of social media.
If you look on social media, you will find a very active and contributing community in the demographic of 50+ people. In many cases we represent the fastest growing demographic.
The point is, age does not equal ignorance, incapability, or unwillingness. To think so, however, does equal inexperience, unawareness and stupidity.
Age in the workplace brings with it immeasurable knowledge. Irreplaceable experience of daunting failure and precious success, formulas that work, methods that achieve, tactics that succeed and procedures that accomplish the goal.
If any HR person thinks that a workforce member of 50+ brings anything less to the table when compared to their younger counterparts, they should be sent back to the summer camp of real life. There they would learn the benefits of appreciating and revering those people who have done it better, longer, more often and with better results than they could ever hope to. And they did it with a lot less resources at their disposal.
I’m not saying that the 50+ crowd is any better than our younger counterparts. I’m simply saying we are every bit as good and carry distinct abilities given to us by the very years that are held against us.
I am sick and tired of watching my peers with fabulous resumes and incredible talent, ability, and hefty recommendations be judged by the number of years they have lived. This country needs the knowledge, loyalty, know how, work ethic and intense dedication that often comes from a 50+ candidate. When did 50 become too old? I call bullshit.
Have I mentioned that it was the generation before me that put a man on the moon?
Oh, and by the way … that computer and smart phone you’re using? Yeah, my generation invented it.
Something to think about.