Does Age Matter in Business?

  • Post category:Business

Should we judge people on their age or their ability when it comes to business?

I think there is a lot of stigma when it comes to age in business. For both young and old, but should we judge a person based on their age?

Think about this, you have an issue with something and you ask to see the Manager.  The Manager arrives and appears to be very young.  Is your first thought. “Do they have any experience?” or “They’re too young to be a Manager”?

If you’re a boss and you’re looking for a new apprentice, if an applicant was more than 40, would you think: “They’re far too old to be an apprentice” or “They’re probably too experienced”?

Are these actually the right thoughts to have? What if the young manager actually started working at the place when they were 16 and they have worked their way up to be a Manager.  They might actually be the one in person in the business that has been there the longest and know everything about the place and the products.  Or, maybe they have spent the last 4 years at university studying management.  Just because a person is young doesn’t mean they are not qualified to perform the role. 

For the older apprentice, maybe they decided that they needed a career change and want to start something new.  Maybe they were a young parent and now it’s their chance to start their career. 

Sometimes I think we put too much unnecessary judgment on people because of their age.  For me, in business you should not be judged on anything but your ability to do your job. 

I was relatively young when I first became a Project Manager, I was around 22 and although I never had anybody tell me to my face that I was too young, I am sure there was judgement behind closed doors from both colleagues and customers. But, do you know what, I just got on with my job, judge away! It’s the best way to prove anybody wrong.  I got on with my job and I did it well. 

In my career, I have also employed people to be part of my team.  I would never look at an applicant and think that they are too young or too old, why should I?   What I look for first and foremost is education and experience and I ask myself, does this applicant have the ability to fulfil the role? 

It is possible that there are some types of jobs that require a certain fitness level, and in this instance, you may be inclined to employ a younger person, but I would still say you need to view all of your applicants with the same eyes.  I know it’s a cliché, but don’t judge a book by its cover.  There are some truly remarkable people in this world! 

Let’s take a look at some super successful young people:

Mark Zuckerberg, he launched Facebook when he was just 19!  Within a few months of it’s launch, Facebook became one of the most used social media platforms. 

Blake Ross, you might not recognise his name, but you will probably recognise his work.  Blake Ross created Mozilla Firefox at the age of just 19 (19 must be the magic number!)  

On this flip side, lets explore some people that became successful later in life:

Donald Fisher opened the first GAP Store when he was 40 along with his wife in 1969.  GAP is now one of the world largest clothing chains. 

Jack Cover invented the Taser Stun Gun at 50 after working at both NASA and IBM.  Not bad!

It really does go to show that age is just a number.   If you immediately judge somebody by their age, stop and think…. they are doing that job for a reason.  Trust that they know what they are doing. 

We are living in unprecedented times. The coronavirus has shaken the world.  There are people out there who have lost their jobs and need to start a new path, so I think we will find that there are more older people applying as apprentices and there will be more younger people that will get what jobs they can now as they can’t pay for university and in a few years they may well be the young managers.  It really shouldn’t matter as long as the job gets done, and gets done well!