General Question

Jillysback's avatar

Do employers prefer youth to experience?

Asked by Jillysback (95 points ) January 30th, 2013

I am a reasonably fit, fairly attractive middle aged woman. I held my last job for 14 years until we moved to a new city. I figured I would have no trouble finding another job in my field, but I have not had a single reply to any of my applications. I am wondering what their thoughts are…am I too old? Over-qualified and they assume they will have to pay me too much? It’s a catch 22 because if I want to try something new they say I don’t have experience! Any thoughts on mid life job hunting??

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17 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

Job hunting is all relevant . . . certain jobs require certain skill sets that experienced person would have an advantage over a newbie. However, if a position is not too sensitive, employers may opt for cheaper labor over seasoned pros. Without knowing your skill set and expectations, it would be difficult to provide you with a sensible advice

Jillysback's avatar

Good point! I managed a single doctor health care office, which I consider a job that an employer would like to have an experienced worker for; however it is possible to train someone, just like any other office job! Why is it that, when I apply for different jobs, such as a lawyers office, or real estate office, they say they want someone experienced?

woodcutter's avatar

They would rather have the experience but only want to pay youth wages.

njnyjobs's avatar

@Jillysback you may have to stick with what you know, which is in the medical field. Lawyers and RE offices are fast-paced and intense environment. Training someone will probably get in the way of their operation.

snowberry's avatar

Volunteer work is a great way to network, gain new experience, and so on. I have gotten some great jobs through volunteer work because folks get to know me, see my work ethic, and so on. It works in any economy too. It also looks great on a resume and job application. Try it.

wildpotato's avatar

I worked in health care admin (reception, patient care coordinator, referrals, billing) for years in both Colorado and then in NYC. I noticed when I moved to NYC and got a job that the people hired for front desk positions had a different look, overall – that is, they were hired for looks, and yes, youth as well. It’s pretty disgusting, actually, and has only gotten worse – ever since I got laid off months ago and have been looking at ads for hire again, I’ve seen quite a few that demand photos of the applicant. Right, as if!

There might be other factors at work, too, in the new locale that are hurting your chances, such as a glut of applicants.

Bellatrix's avatar

Do you put your age on your application? Where I live you are not legally required to do this and it would not be questioned if you didn’t put your age on your application.

In my field experience and knowledge is valued more than age. I do have some young people working for me and I take people on who are enthusiastic and have good practical experience but not the paper qualifications on occasions.

Perhaps have someone who works in recruitment (especially in the field you want to move into) look at your resume if you can. Make sure you tailor every application to the job you are applying for. Believe in yourself and craft your applications to show your positives.

I wish you success.

Jillysback's avatar

@Bellatrix No I don’t put my age, but people can figure out by my résumé that I’ve got a few years under my belt! Hopefully I’ll eventually find an employer who will appreciate me! I’ll keep looking for sure. Thanks for the well-wishes!

Bellatrix's avatar

Make sure everything on your resume is relevant. I am not saying you are doing this, but you don’t have to list every irrelevant job you ever had from years ago. I tend to only include my employment history that relates to my current career these days. I see some resumes that have everything people ever did on them.

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LostInParadise's avatar

There is a certain amount of awkwardness on the part of both people when an older person has a younger person as a manager. It is like a child giving orders to a parent. I would guess that this would contribute to a tendency to choose younger people at lower positions in the management hierarchy and older people at higher levels, in addition to matters of experience.

mattbrowne's avatar

Good employers prefer diverse teams, which includes age.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Our company prefers youth with experience, although we’ve hired for youth (doesn’t usually work out well) and we’ve hired for experience, and experience usually trumps youth in the long run for good employees.

One guy just left after having multiple panic attacks due to the high-stress, rapid-pace environment, saying he wasn’t ready for this career.

Emphasize your experience, smile a lot, look professional, and it doesn’t hurt to mention the economy or some kind of insinuation that with all that experience you know it will probably be an entry level position (or list on your resume for that particular job.)

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Sadly, there’s some horrific discrimination against senior workers, and it begins when people are still in their 40’s and 50’s.

—Why pay an experienced, knowledgeable employee, when recent college graduates can be found at much lower costs? So what if the younger person brings no expertise to the job and may lack the maturity and social skills needed to work professionally? So what if there are no senior staff members to help young workers learn?

—Health insurance is very inexpensive for young people.

—There’s a perception that older people might not stick around for the long-term. This is ridiculous; younger workers tend to change jobs much more often, and mature employees are more likely to stay put.

—There’s also a perception that people become less healthy and reliable as they age. Again, ridiculous. A 50-year-old worker is hardly ready to move to a nursing home, and young women spend plenty of time out of the office when they start having children (hint—the 50-year-old won’t be taking maternity leave).

I always loved working with people who were younger than I was, and any work environment benefits from diversity and an ongoing infusion of fresh, new talent. But, there needs to be a balance.

Carinaponcho's avatar

Usually, employers would rather pay a younger worker who will work for a smaller salary than an older worker who expects a larger one.

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mattbrowne's avatar

@Carinaponcho – Yeah, dumb employers do that. We saw that in 2000 when lots of the start-ups with young people only went broke because they couldn’t handle their financial management. Smart employers always look for a good mix.

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