17 Reasons Why Companies Won’t Hire People Over 50

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By Darryl Henderson

While job applicants are told of the importance of experience when applying for a role, it seems that hiring managers are more reluctant than ever to hire people above the age of 50. Here are 17 reasons why this happens.

Age Diversity

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Companies are starting to understand the value of mixing the generations together in the workplace to add youthful enthusiasm to the experience and skill set of the older generations. As stated in the Harvard Business Review, age-diverse teams bring together complementary abilities, skills, and networks. 

Age Discrimination

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Sometimes, the perceived lack of employment opportunities for those over 50 years of age is purely down to age discrimination. CNBC reports that 78% of older workers in America have either seen or experienced some form of age discrimination in the workplace.

Keeping the Youth On Their Side

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Younger employees may feel as though they are not valued as much as they would like to be if they are overlooked for a promotion by an external worker over the age of 50. This could lead to young people moving elsewhere for more opportunities, leaving a gap in the workplace.

Age Stereotypes

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As much as people are told not to buy into stereotypes or take them with any legitimacy, they will always exist among smaller-minded employers. They may be wary of employing older people as they believe they don’t have as much to give, or their minds won’t be as invested in what the company is trying to achieve.

Youthful Image

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There’s an ever-increasing desire that companies have to project a youthful image across to their clientele. They believe that it makes the workplace look vibrant and lively, as well as making them look as though they are willing to give young people opportunities.

Wanting Long-Term Employees

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There is generally more uncertainty about the futures of workers over 50 years old, as they may be planning on retiring soon. Hiring managers may be looking to recruit an employee that they are certain will stick around for the long haul. 

Skill Relevance

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As we have moved into the digital era, there may be fears among employers that older workers won’t be as tech-savvy as their younger counterparts. Younger people are known for having technology as a second language, having grown up immersed in it.

Higher Salary Demands

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Those who have been in the workforce for many years, gaining experience and skills outweighing the less-experienced workers will inevitably want a higher wage. Older employees will cost more than younger workers and will be less willing to put up with unreasonable demands from those higher up in the company.

Influencing How an Employee Works

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Hiring managers will often look for young, impressionable candidates who they can shape into their ethos. Older workers are generally perceived as less malleable in that sense, as they already have experience in the industry and will be more set in their way of working.

Employing From Within

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Companies are usually a lot more eager to promote a younger employee to a higher role rather than employing someone from the outside. This is because, according to Forbes, bringing in an employee from outside the company costs 18% more than giving an existing employee a promotion. 

Energy Concerns

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Despite people over 50 being fitter and stronger than ever, employers may discriminate against older people as they don’t believe they have the stamina and energy to keep up with the demands of the job. This could lead to the subconscious dismissal of older candidates. 

Less Innovation

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Hiring managers are often looking for innovators, and new minds that can help to progress the company further. They are wrongly led to believe that older minds are less innovative than younger minds, even though a report in the New York Times suggests that innovators actually get better with age.

Unconscious Bias

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Sometimes, the hiring managers at a company won’t even realize that they are unfairly biased against older applicants. Various recruitment strategies used by hiring managers are aimed at younger people, rather than those who are over 50 years of age.

Workplace Morale

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If the company already has a solid core of younger employees, they will be unlikely to want to throw a completely different style of employee into the mix. Workplaces work best when morale is high, so having someone who can integrate seamlessly into the fold will be beneficial.

Overqualification

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Sometimes, you can simply be too good for the role you’re applying for. Companies may be looking for someone younger with less experience and expertise in the role, as they don’t want to end up with an employee who is bored and lacking motivation.

Appearance

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As much as hopeful applicants may not want to believe it, there are some shallow hiring managers who will gravitate toward a candidate because of their appearance. They may also be looking to give the brand an attractive, desirable image.

CV Requirements

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Many companies require a college degree for new employees, which favors younger applicants. In 1990, 20% of American adults had a college degree, a number which has risen substantially in the 30 years since. Therefore, some older applicants may have their CVs thrown out straight away, regardless of their experience.