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15 Dec 2009

POSTED BY DJackson IN General | Dec 15th, 2009 | 25 responses

Not just a young person’s game

Nearly 40 years ago, Roger Daltry of The Who sang: “The old man’s got all the money, and a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days.” Today, Daltry is in his 60s and young people rule – especially in the digital sphere. In fact, many would say it’s the old man that has nothing (Why is The Who still touring today? Probably because, even though they’re now old men, they haven’t got all the money).

James-R-Gaines ©Hiroko Masuike

James-R-Gaines ©Hiroko Masuike

The stereotypes about older workers are well known – they’re set in their ways, risk-averse and conservative, focused on the past, unwilling to engage in continuous learning, and expecting to be rewarded for loyalty instead of performance. All pretty deadly when it comes to digital companies, which pride themselves on flexibility, learning and looking to the future.

However, I’m seeing more and more people over 40 applying for – and, importantly, succeeding in – a range of digital roles. Those stereotypes might apply broadly to older workers, but there is a growing sub-culture of older workers who love the Internet, are flexible, love to learn and are full of creativity.

There are actually many advantages in hiring older workers – even in the fast-paced digital industry. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that workers aged over 55 are five times less likely to change jobs than 20-24-year-olds. ABS data also reveals that older workers are least likely to take sick days.

One of the most common myths about older workers is that they’re less technologically savvy, but older people are, in fact, the fastest-growing users of technology – just look at the explosion in people over 50 joining Facebook this year.

And let’s face it, they’ve had more time to make mistakes – and learn from them – than Gen Y employees. A former print editor who, at 60, joined an online digital publication was introduced as someone who “has forgotten more about magazines than any of us has ever known.”

An important thing to consider is the changing age profile of Australia’s workforce; 80 per cent of workforce growth in the next decade will come from people older than 45 years. So don’t dismiss the growing number of grey-haired applicants for digital jobs.

s2mLogoANIMDavid Jackson is managing director and principal talent broker for S2M Digital, www.s2m.com.au a recruitment agency specialising in the digital space.

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