Growth, Legal, Management, Managing people

Recruitment: Why age should be no barrier

Andrew Sadauskas /

In many industries, the toughest jobs to land are your first one, and your last.

 

Think back to when you were younger. Landing that first job in your chosen profession was tough. You had the work ethic, qualifications, skills and ideas, but lacked paid industry experience.

 

For many kids, it’s a vicious paradox. They can’t get that paid industry experience without getting a job in the industry – but they can’t land a job without paid industry experience.

 

At the other end of the jobs market, especially in industries such as IT, finding a job can be exceptionally difficult once you’re in your 50s and 60s. Having a lifetime of skills and experience in your profession counts for little when the recruiter thinks you mightn’t still be working for the company in five years.

 

This age discrimination at both ends of the spectrum poses a golden opportunity for smart entrepreneurs looking to hire staff.

 

In many ways, young people make the ideal start-up employees. Roles and procedures are usually far less tightly pinned down in a small business than they could in a big bureaucratic organisation.

 

This means young whipper-snappers have latitude to do things they’d never get the opportunity to try in a big organisation. The opportunity – the necessity – to do things beyond their job description might mean that they are able to be promoted faster than they would in a bureaucracy.

 

Meanwhile, your young staff are not already indoctrinated in the bubble of your industry. This makes them far less likely to whine “that’s not how we do things around here!” These are your company’s people, not someone else’s. This gives you far greater latitude in moulding your corporate culture.

 

Young employees can also grow with your business. For example, imagine you open a new office overseas or interstate. It’s far easier to uproot a 20-something than an employee in their 30s or 40s.

 

A 40-something-year-old might have a mortgage, kids in school, a spouse or partner with their own career – all of which need to be re-established if you want them to move interstate. In contrast, a 20-something year old lives in a share house. All they have to worry about is a couch, a bed, a microwave oven, a TV and a cat.

 

However, at least at first, some of your younger staff might benefit from having more experienced staff around. Having older mentors around the office can benefit your younger staff.

 

If your older recruits eventually retire, it’s really not such a big problem – in fact, it’s an opportunity for some of your younger staff to step up and take on leadership responsibilities.

 

So are you looking to hire? Don’t be afraid to give younger or older candidates a chance.

 

Get it done – today!

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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