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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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333 West San Carlos Street
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Return to ChannelPro SMB Forum 2022: The Employee Recruitment Dating Game
December 21, 2023 |

5 Benefits of Hiring Older Workers

Contrary to popular myth, workers in the 55-plus talent pool make great IT employees, in both technical and nontechnical roles.

One of the IT industry’s biggest challenges is finding qualified candidates, yet employers are overlooking a large talent pool: older workers.

By 2024, the labor force will grow to about 164 million people, including 41 million people who will be 55 and older, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected. Data from IT industry association CompTIA’s 2021 report on the U.S. tech workforce, however, shows that just 20% of workers across all tech jobs are 55 or older.

That’s a lot of untapped potential, particularly during a pandemic in which many older workers have retired, been laid off, or stepped away – women in particular – for caregiving but still have up-to-date skills, said Kerry Hannon, author of 14 books, including “Getting the Job You Want After 50 For Dummies.”

Kerry Hannon

“People took early retirements; they were dangled these packages. But to be honest with you, they don’t really want to retire,” she said.

Whether such people are looking to re-enter the workforce full time, part time, or on a contract basis, there’s a “fantastic” opportunity for small tech firms, Hannon said. “You’ve got that advanced skill set from the individual, but they’re not necessarily looking for the full freight, so it can be very affordable for a small, nimble startup. They get that expertise without having to ramp up anyone for training.”

Moreover, older workers are more settled and less inclined to job hop, Hannon said, plus they have decades of verbal and written communication skills, which is important for customer-facing roles.

Business coach Erick Simpson said many of his MSP clients have older workers in sales or highly skilled tech roles. “They haven’t hired them specifically because they’re older, but because they have been in the industry for so long and have these competencies.”

Particularly for tasks such as sales or strategic business reviews, older workers bring a level of maturity to the table when conversing with business owners, Simpson added.

They also have tech skills that digital natives may not, said James Stanger, chief technology evangelist with CompTIA. “We live in a cloud-first world, but there’s a lot of older systems that will hang around us for a long time and people need to know about how they work.”

For more resources and content on DEI from ChannelPro and CompTIA, go here.

Yet the culture in tech has long been geared toward younger hires, a bias typified by Meta (formerly Facebook) founder Mark Zuckerberg’s infamous declaration in 2007 that, “Young people are just smarter.”

Raquel Wiley

This attitude is subtly perpetuated by how the industry seeks workers, said Stanger, pointing to job descriptions. “Even for senior roles, they’ll say something like three to seven, or seven to 10 [years of experience]. That sends a very specific message.”

Raquel Wiley, chair of the Alliance for Channel Women’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee and vice president of marketing at NetFortris, added: “There’s a perception that we [workers over 50] are kind of on the down slope; that we’ve got our plans in place and we’re starting to look toward retirement. And while that may be the case for some, it’s not the case for all. You have others that are willing to learn new skill sets.”

Indeed, two-thirds of older workers have taken some type of skills training in the past two years, and 77% show very strong interest in acquiring computer or other technology training in the next year, according to AARP.

To recruit and hire older workers, first look internally for any unconscious bias, Hannon advised. “If you’re the CEO of a company or you’re the hiring manager, how are you reflecting the values that you’re saying? Look at your website. Are you showing only younger workers?”

Finally, channel pros may want to follow the example of Microsoft, which signed the AARP Employer Pledge promoting equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age, Wiley said.

“There is an opportunity for us to open those doors and fill some of those gaps that we’re seeing.”


Image: iStock

Return to ChannelPro SMB Forum 2022: The Employee Recruitment Dating Game

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