Is there age discrimination in employment? Of course, some companies are more blatant than others. If you you truly believes age discrimination doesn't exist, I worry for you. Instead of talking about how WRONG that is -- I'm sure there are already hundreds of thousands of website on the WWW beaten that horse to death -- let's look at some possible reasons of why some companies prefer hiring younger employees. And before I go on, let me clarify that by "older people" here I mean non Gen Y, and yes, I fall into my own "older people" category, so I am really not here to justify companies' actions. Instead, I am just discussing about some of my observations about "older people."
The age of the interviewer/hiring manager notwithstanding, what are some advantages for companies to hire younger people? Well, let me tell you about how "older people" behave, from personal experience and observation. Older people tend to be more set in their ways. We see a younger person doing things differently, our immediate reaction -- whether we express it explicitly or not -- are to find faults with the new way of doing things. I admit it, I have those thoughts. It's like a classic Asian mother-in-law/daughter-in-law mentality. Allow me to elaborate, Asian men tend to have a more unusual bond with their mothers, which makes it very difficult for the mother to accept the wife -- the woman who steals the son from her. In the good old days, the son doesn't move out when he gets married, the wife moves into the husband's family when they get married, thus begin the war between the mother/daughter-in-law, usually ends up the daughter-in-law being tortured, psychologically and/or physically. So years after that, when the daughter-in-law had her own son and became a mother-in-law herself, it's her turn to torture the other woman, so on and so forth, you get the idea.
And just what does that have to do with our current subject. Ah, just let me get there. When started working, technology wasn't as advanced as they are today, so we had to do many things the long way. We used fax instead of email. Long distance calls were a big deal. I worked with this lady before who would, literally, yell at you if you dare dial the fax number first before you put down the piece of paper, presumably because that's the way she had always done it because the first generation fax machines required that the piece of document be put down first. It was kind of sad that her only accomplishment in life was the proper way of using the fax machine...
Whilst the last two might not be the best examples, but my point is that because we had to do things the hard way, we find it difficult to let the new blood who just enter the work force to "get away with it," and that could easily let to a less friendly and productive environment, and many good suggestions by the younger generation can be overlooked.
Another interesting observation is, this is San Jose, heart of the Silicon Valley. You want to work for a company with great benefit you aim for a tech firm. However, I've came to realize that some people from the older generation resist to update their knowledge of technology. Again, I was guilty of that myself. It took me the longest time before I set up a Twitter and Facebook account to see what they are all about. I will admit that to date I am not a big fan of oversharing, but the point is, it only takes a few minutes to sit down, create an account, mess around and see what the hype is about.
Just imagine, if you are the owner of Facebook, would you hire someone who doesn't even have a Facebook account and has no idea what it is, regardless of whether you are applying for a position on the development team or direct sales. Is it really so horrible that employers prefer to hire employees that at least have certain knowledge of the company if not totally passionate over it? You can learn about a product without 100% embracing it. I still don't get the point of Facebook, I guess you will have to be Gen Y to understand why would want to share your every movement with your friends/families on a regular basis, or worse, the cryptic messages of "______ is sad/angry/happy" without providing a reason.
Forget about the employment aspect of it, technology, especially when it is advancing in leaps and bounds nowadays, infiltrates every aspect of our lives. It is really to own benefit to make sure we don't fall too far behind of what's the latest and greatest out there. You don't have to own a smart phone, but it'd be nice for you to know that web-enabled phones are highly popular now. In the good old days maybe it didn't matter as much, but things didn't use to change at the same pace as they are today, and if you keep up with the news, you'd know that the average retirement age is now 67, so even if you are 50 years old now, you could easily still have another 17 years to go. It might not be a pleasant thought, but it is, unfortunately, the cold, hard truth. So do yourself and everyone a favor, if you have seen/heard of Twitter/Facebook/social networking and have NO idea what the hell it is, sit down, create an account and start catching up with the rest of the world.