Maybe this blog topic appealed to me because most of the people I interview are now younger than me.. (I’m just starting to look down the other side of the hill!) Or maybe it’s because last night I interviewed a grandfather who’s employed as a small business IT support guy and I don’t see many of them!
I know some of my clients are dubious about how well older people will fit into their young, dynamic and highly technical team culture, particularly as the average age at most MSPs is probably around 27 years old. Here’s the thing though, while sometimes there is age discrimination, most of the time I find employers will be open to consider older candidates if they can be assured of the following:
- Their technical knowledge is up to date and relevant
- They have an easy going but confident personality
- They’re teachable and pick up things quickly
Of course, these are all the same qualities you’d want from any employee for most MSPs or IT companies. Unfortunately though, stereotypes surrounding older people mean there can be an unconscious bias at play that can assume that older people will not get on well with younger ones, that they’ll be harder to teach and stuck in their ways or that they won’t pick up new technical knowledge quickly enough.
What to do if you’re on the wise side of 50?
Technical knowledge is demonstrable. Be prepared to quote specific examples of problems you have solved, projects you’ve delivered and technology you are familiar with in your CV in detail. Make sure the examples you give are of the newer and more cutting-edge tech. You may have been great at supporting AS400’s but my bet is you aren’t going for jobs like that now. The same goes for your interview, passionately tell stories of recent successes you’ve had with current technology in real world environments.
Personality and/or cultural fit is something that will be determined at interview stage. Be prepared, be confident, be yourself. Recount a story which demonstrates you working well in a team environment with people of all ages. Have a story which shows how life experience has given you the skills to be empathetic and really understand your customers. Recount a story about some recent skills that you learnt, how you taught yourself and in what time frame. Give the employer the confidence that you’re a safe pair of hands when it comes to their staff and clients. Recommended reading: The Value Of Telling Stories In An Interview
The fact is you as an older person have a lot to offer. You’ve been around the block, you’ve seen it all before and while you might not pull all nighters so much any more you can sure use all that experience to work smarter and with more wisdom.