Can Anyone That Old Know Anything?

I was talking with a client recently, who was professing his desire for younger candidates.

“Can anyone older than 35 or 40 really know anything?” was his concern.

I sat there, a little nonplussed. “How old do you think I am?” I paused. “No, don’t answer that. Just remember that age is not the issue. You want people who know how to learn and work well with you. You want people who don’t have the same year of experience year after year after year.”

Those of you who have read Age and Agile are Orthogonal know what I think about age and agile. It’s not how old you are. It’s about how well you think. It’s about what you have learned and applied during your career.

In my recent post about Why an Agile Project Manager is Not a Scrum Master, I talked about the ongoing learning I expect a project manager to have. Of course, not all project managers have that. But the project managers who don’t continue to learn have the same year of experiences every year, year after year, do. (The goal of the PMI certification PDUs is that the PMP continue to learn, year after year.)

So, remember, it’s not about how old a candidate is. It’s about how well they they think, and how they have applied what they have learned.

And, you young turk hiring managers: yes, people that old might just know something. And, they might have more maturity than you give them credit for. And, they might not want your job. You can’t tell what a candidate’s value is until you read the resume. So, stop playing age discrimination before the older candidate even gets in the damn door and give them a shot.

Sheesh. Repeat after me. It’s not about how old the candidate is. It’s the value the candidate brings, regardless of the candidate’s age. Young people might not be able to learn anything, either. Sheesh.

4 Replies to “Can Anyone That Old Know Anything?”

  1. Wonderful points! The older candidate needs to bring a fresh mind set, an open view, awareness of what’s new, coupled with all that experience. The ability to integrate information, views things strategically, are some of what value we can add.

  2. I think we do need to be aware of Dunning-Kruger type issues though: to the young hiring manager who thinks he knows it all, our hard-won awareness of how much more there is that we don’t know can seem like a lack of understanding and/or relevance. Personally speaking, at 52, I’d better bring value, because I’m seriously expensive!

  3. Thank you for sharing this post. Great point was definitely this “It’s not how old you are. It’s about how well you think. It’s about what you have learned and applied during your career.” Sometimes, young people tend to know everything since they feel they have learned more new things. But for me, experience is they key to learning and if you value it then you achieve success.

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