How Not To ‘Age Out’ of IT Employment

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company director being shown how to operate a laptop by a computer technicianThere’s a sense that one can be too old to be hired for an IT job but some experts refute that. Instead, what happens is people don’t keep their skills up to date, regardless of age, and don’t get hired for that reason.

In an article at, author, career search expert and consultant Rick Gillis says, “It’s about being able to demonstrate your accomplishments. Most IT firms want to know one of two things: Can you make them money or can you save them money? Then they’ll want to hire you, regardless of your age,” he says.

Also in the article, Gillis says, “If you’ve been looking for a job for six months, you have to realize how much has happened in that time — learn about emerging technology. Know the terminology. Be able to show that you’ve added to your knowledge and your skills,” Gillis says, and be able to demonstrate how that knowledge and your skills have positively impacted previous employers.”

According to an Associated Press article, “Many companies still tend to overlook older applicants. Peter Cappelli, a University of Pennsylvania professor who co-authored ‘Managing the Older Worker,’ said because the economy has remained relatively weak and demand for jobs has been so high, many employers haven’t been pressed to directly recruit older individuals.”

The article reports, “Stereotypes have prevailed. Hiring managers often still view older applicants as having lower job performance, higher absenteeism and accident rates, and less ability to solve problems and adapt to changes. But Capelli said research has found older workers outpace younger ones in nearly every metric.”

The perception of older workers, though, persists among human resources professionals. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released the results from an email survey about hiring older workers that was sent to HR professionals with some reporting these disadvantages:

Older employees might bet set in their ways and sometimes are not as adept at new technology as their younger counterparts. They may need additional training, and they may lack flexibility.

  • They might be old enough to have one or more chronic diseases, which makes them more expensive when it comes to medical care and insurance.
  • They prefer flexible hours, but not all businesses can give them this benefit.
  • Yet the same survey found benefits to hiring older workers that applicants should play up when applying for IT jobs:

Older employees have invaluable work experience, including diverse thoughts and approaches.

  • They are usually able (and willing) to mentor younger, less-experienced employees.
  • They can take on part-time or seasonal work. In fact, they often prefer it.
  • They are reliable and have a strong work ethic.
  • Older employees have a serious commitment to work, and they are loyal.
  • Many times, they already have established, long-term networks of clients and contacts.

That last point could be especially valuable for newer companies trying to be competitive with older, more established firms.

As the HRM study also adds, “Research has shown that, far from being a burden, older employees actually miss fewer days than younger ones. According to SHRM, their turnover rate is less than the one for younger ones, too. That matters, considering that turnover costs are about a third of an employee’s annual salary. And many of them are healthier than the last generation. Many older employees are obviously still healthy and vital.”

The bottom line is older IT workers can still find employment. The key is demonstrating their value as an older worker while also proving their technical skills are up to date. Overcome inherent discrimination by proving your case during the interview.

Read more in Age Discrimination

Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.
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