Updated: Oct 25, 2021
Age- it's something we can't talk about when interviewing a person, but how often does someone get passed on because the interviewer and/or company perceives them as "too" old.
When recently having this discussion with a friend, he asked if I was better than I was ten years ago. I answered, "Absolutely." But if I was on the job hunt, would the prospective company understand that? Or would they look at someone who might retire on them in several year's time?
The irony of thinking age as a determent is displayed by the men and women who found their best success later in life. Certainly, Churchill was one of them. At 65, he was considered old when he took the position of Prime Minster. He drank too much, had a quick temper and napped in the middle of the day. Hardly the qualifications one would look for in a PM. Yet, his fierce temperament, his vivacious desire for good over evil, and his unending passion helped win WWII, earning him a prominent place in history.
Arianna Huffington started her namesake publication when she was 55 years old. Stan Lee created his first hit comic, "The Fantastic Four," just shy of his 39th birthday and continued acting in films until he died at 95. Rodney Dangerfield didn't break into show until the age of 46. And Ray Kroc bought his first McDonald's at age 52.
There are dozen more stories, but what is the one you might miss by passing on someone because of their age? Seasoned people bring years of experience. They help set cultures. They mentor young people entering companies. If I had the opportunity to sit with someone from the past, it would not be the young self of George Washington, Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi--instead it would be the older version who could teach me the invaluable lessons they learned along their way.
Next time you are thinking of age as a disadvantage, consider the wealth of knowledge and experience that person can bring to your organization. It might just make the difference in your firm that you would never have imagined.