Youth is Wasted on the Young...

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Youth is Wasted on the Young...

Why you should consider hiring older workers

When I hit 50+ last month (you can guess at the + part), I thought to myself. “Would I hire me at my age? Would anybody else want to hire me?” The answer I kept coming up with? Probably not. 

I’ve been writing software for about 27 years. I work in IT every day and write software a lot of those days. The rest of the time I’m deep in software and technology for my career. Although I can likely do a better job than most half my age, I would have a hard time finding someone to hire me. Thankfully, I'm not looking.

Employers have a bias against older workers. Even if the hiring manager is 50+, he wouldn’t hire somebody his age. We think older people have less energy, have lost their grasp of technology, and would want more money.

Well, so much is wrong with the way we view older workers. Right now, 25% of the population is 55 or older. By 2050, over 35% of the population will be over 55 and 20% over 65.

The economy and a healthy aging population contributes to this. The longer we live the longer we’ll need to continue working. After 2008, many of those that thought they’d retire at 65 are still working hoping to retire some day.

So, it doesn’t almost doesn’t matter if you want to hire older workers or not. Eventually you won’t have a choice. Over the next 10 years, it’s expected that the number of people over 65 in the workforce will increase by 80%.

Why should you reconsider older workers?


I have to say, the younger generation these days want instant gratification and the corner office. They’ve been told they’re special and received trophies for coming in last. They just assume they’ll rise to the top because they’re mommy catered to their every need; hence their neediness.

Older workers show up on time, have pride in their work, and are more likely to stay with the company longer.

The percentage of older workers born 1946 to 1964 that would like to be working somewhere else is less than 27%. Whereas 54% of younger workers born 1981-1995 are interested in working somewhere else.

Older workers don’t have kids pulling them in all directions. They have less things in their life that pull them away from their focus on the job. They tend to be more reliable and dependable and they tend to be happier.


One thing I’ve personally noticed is how younger and older software developers do their jobs differently.

Younger workers tend to be fast, try different things to see what works best, and may go back and change code later because they found a better way to do it. They also lose interest on one part of code and focus their attention on other less important parts only to come back to the boring code later. They tend to have more bugs which takes them or QA longer to get the code into production.

Older workers may take a bit longer in the initial coding but overall complete the code sooner with less bugs. They have experience, know the right way to do it the first time and don’t need to experiment on the employer’s dime. They tend to attack the more complex things first since those things are more likely to delay the project later. Older workers are more processed and methodical in how they go about their job.

Experience is a wonderful teacher. When you have a lot of experience, you’ve likely failed and succeeded many times and learned what it takes to succeed and not to fail. We should want this experience on our projects; not overlook it.

Salary of Older Workers

Often, it is not the case that older workers expect more money than their younger counterparts. Older workers understand the marketplace and as mature adults they will more likely have less need for higher salaries and have money put aside for emergencies. They also tend to be more responsible with their money and as a result are able to live on less.

But, if they do want more money, you need to not look at that as much as what they bring to the table. If they’re more efficient in their work, more loyal to their employer, have pride in their work, and not constantly looking for the better job with more pay, the company may actually save money on his or her higher salary.

Don’t be Biased Toward Older Workers

It always makes me laugh when a young person calls me old. Do they not realize that they’re going to be my age someday unless they do something stupid like earning the Darwin Award? They’re laughing at their future.

We need to value experience more than we value youth. Like the old saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” That’s a truer statement than we realize.

By the way, this article is not intended to piss off young people and make old people feel good about themselves. The bias against older people is just as bad as any bias and we need to confront it head on and tell the truth. I felt the same way about older workers when I was in my 20s. Well, it's amazing what you learn in your 50s...



LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/youth-wasted-young-kevin-ferguson
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