Is Age or Experience More Important? Top 9 Tips for Employers

Posted: 12.23.2021
Placing an advertisement for a job is followed by a deluge of applications. Usually, they fit into one of two categories: older, yet experienced or young and inexperienced. Which of the two is more important? A less common group of applicants are older but do not have experience in the field because they have chosen a new career midway through their working lives.
 
As a manager in charge of hiring someone to fill a position, you face the conundrum of choosing age over experience, or vice versa. This is a debate that has been discussed for many years across different industries.
 
You would think that because agism is against the law, it would be easy for employers to disregard age on a resume. But unfortunately, there is still a cultural stigma in regards to older employees as well as younger employees. Even though there are certain stigmas, we want to help you break free from those and find out what actually does matter.
 
We have compiled nine tips to help you know what to look for in candidates whether it’s age, experience, attitude or a good fit:
 
1. Age is nothing but a number.
It’s sometimes important to remember the words of Mark Twain, who said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
 
Excluding a candidate on the basis of age can be a shortsighted approach. You could lose out on valuable employees by not giving them a chance to prove themselves. Ellen Mullarkey, VP of Business Development for the Messina Staffing Group states that:
 
“Age shouldn’t be a factor in hiring. You should look purely at the individual’s qualifications and achievements. If they’re a recent college grad with an amazing portfolio, great! If they’re ten years away from retirement but they’ve had a long and successful career in the industry, that’s great too!

There’s this misconception that young people are more valuable resources because they’ve grown up with the internet and are therefore more prepared for the future. But that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve seen a lot of older folks acclimate to the digital era just fine. And, they have years of experience in the industry, so they know how to put their new skills to use.”
 
Some 30-year-olds have the energy levels of someone in their 50s, while some 50-year-olds exhibit the energy levels of someone in their 30s. They’re proof that one should never write someone off due to age, whether they’re young or old.
 
2. Age doesn’t foster ability.
Just because a prospective employee has many years of experience doesn’t mean they have the necessary abilities. For example, a person who has worked in customer service for a long time doesn’t necessarily have the skills needed to manage a customer service center.
 
A lot of soft skills employees need to make a success of a job are inherent. Some people are born with them, and others have to learn them. A person with natural ability will not need the same amount of training and development as someone who doesn’t.
 
Ability is not necessarily tied to age. Sean Pour is 25 years old and the co-founder of SellMax, a nationwide car buying service. He started the company when he was only 14 years old! When hiring employees for his company he states that:
 
“I couldn’t care less about the age I’m purely focused on talent. You’d be surprised how young some of our bright web developers are. In most positions, if you’re the best at the task then age has no bearing or weight."
 
"But there is one caveat. When I say most of the time age should have no weight there are certain positions where it shouldn’t matter but it does. As a young co-founder, I was not taken seriously in certain business meetings when trying to recruit new partnerships with our company. It wasn’t until my co-founder who is much older than I stepped in that we were able to land these deals.
 
In our culture, it’s more socially acceptable to make a “more important” deal with someone who is older as individuals have a preconceived idea that age must mean experience. That being said, I think if you’re hiring someone to do external company sales or deal-making on deals of a significant size age is relatively important, even if they aren’t the best at the job.”
 
3. The importance of experience.
The idea of hiring someone and then assisting them with getting qualifications is a long-term financial investment. The return on that investment will be a qualified employee who will contribute many years to the organization.
 
Before you could make such an offer, you need to calculate how many years the employee has to offer the organization. Someone whose working life has another ten years in it is a less attractive prospect than someone who has 30 years to give the company.
 
Look at some of the best cv writing services. You’ll see that many writers are younger than you would expect, having recently graduated from college themselves.
 
4. Keep succession planning in mind.
Any company should have a succession plan for its senior management. Without succession planning, the organization will be left in limbo when someone retires or becomes ill. From the time they start at the company, some employees will stand out as being eligible for succession mentoring.
They can learn the inner workings of the company over several years, giving them a unique insight that will make them valuable members of senior management.
 
Usually, organizations start worrying about succession planning about two years before someone leaves. Forward-thinking managers are already putting succession planning in place to create a conveyor belt of employees who are up to the task.
 
5. Have an open mind.
People who lived 100 years ago didn’t face the changes we do today. We go to bed one night thinking we understand the world around us, and the next day we wake up to something new. Advances in technology and robotics mean that workplaces are evolving and changing. People are going to be doing jobs that no one imagined would ever exist.
 
Who would have believed that artificial intelligence would leave the realm of science-fiction literature and become a reality? Keeping up with change requires innovation and growing knowledge. Being open-minded will allow you to see that both younger and older applicants have so much to offer. 
 
6. Look at the attitude of the candidate.
People still tend to put more trust in a manager who is older instead of a fresh-faced kid who recently graduated from college. It’s a psychological conditioning that we are exposed to that tells us someone with life experience is more reliable than someone with little or none.
 
However, just because someone is young doesn’t mean they can’t become a manager. A lot of what builds someone’s confidence in a manager has to do with how the manager conducts themselves. A level of maturity and the ability to work with others is not necessarily related to physical age.

Paul Ronto CMO of RunRepeat believes that:
 
“The most experienced applicant in the world, with a bad attitude or poor work drive, won't get the job over a relatively green hire with the right outlook, but ultimately there's a balance there to strike and the best hires are those with plenty of experience, but no ego to go along with it, these hires usually get right to work, and are willing to learn new skills based on the specifics of the job, department, or company."
 
7. Organizational culture.
Every organization is unique. They each have their own ways of doing things, collectively known as the organizational culture. This set of practices is not always written down. Instead, it’s something that has evolved over the company’s life.
 
For example, your onboarding book won’t say that it’s customary for all employees to have lunch together on a Friday. However, this may be something that has become an accepted practice over the years.
Adapting to a new organizational culture can be difficult for someone who’s worked somewhere else for a very long time. Instead of looking at age look at if they are a good fit for your company.
 
8. Look for ambition.
Think of the scenario of two people of the same age, background, and qualifications, who start in the same position simultaneously. Why is it that two years down the line, one of them is ready to move up on the career ladder while the other isn’t? It boils down to a combination of ability and determination. And as they say, hard work beats talent.
 
One way to look for ambition when hiring someone is by looking at their experience. But, Justin Terch of Terch & Associates LLC suggests that:
 
“Experience alone isn't necessarily the best indicator. Rather, the quality of the experience is a good indicator. So my advice to hiring managers isn't to just look at the quantity of the experience but on the quality.”
 
The quality of a candidate's experience will show to you that they work hard, they are driven and ambitious.
 
About the Author
Mary Voss is a freelance writer, content creator of educational, management, marketing and recruitment topics and an editor in best essays review. She is a permanent co-organizer, moderator and attendant of educational webinars and participator of various creative marketing projects. Her main areas of interest are travelling and teaching people to live an abundant and limitless life.
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