Which is better in the workplace: Recent college grads or 55+ folk?



BlogBreak contributer and e-resume.net vice president Chandra Fox tackles a touchy subject. Which generation works hardest on the job? She makes her position quite clear. Do you agree or disagree with her?

If you are hiring to fill a position with your company and need the best candidate, what makes your decision? Seasoned candidates are clearly coming back into the workforce after the atrocious financial meltdown. Other candidates are recently out of school and are in their twenties. You have two vastly different personalities to pick from. Will your decision be based on the overall focus of the candidate or does the old age discrimination come into play?

Your choices are one of two if you ask me. One choice is a group that are technically genius, resourceful, multi-tasking youngsters or the other choice tends to be an older worker. With a worker that has been in “the game of life” a little longer, you get people that will wait to determine the best solution, research past similar situations and make decisions based on more than just ensuring they make a decision before they receive their next text message from a friend. The older folk tend to have a stronger work ethic. Younger folk want everything now. They want their parents quality of life at twenty-something.

Have we created this degradation of our society in terms of work ethic by not raising children with values or respect? Absolutely. Parents put in systems to not let one team win over another team to ensure self-esteem. That was the beginning of the end for these youngsters. Then no spanking to keep the children within boundaries? Children eating out with the parents every time? That was never allowed “back in the day.” Teach those you have an influence on that you can still change when you work.

You leave your cell phone in the car. You don’t take calls, texts or look up anything personal when being paid by another. Save yourself parents, if you don’t take action to make the younger generation more like the older generation, it will come back to haunt you after you’ve shelled out thousands for college, in form of the child that couldn’t adjust to “real life” moving back in with you.

32 comments Add your comment


July 28th, 2009
1:09 pm

I would much rather have an older worker than a younger one. The work life experiences this person brings could be invaluable to any company.


July 28th, 2009
1:49 pm

I am a 52-year old laid off male and have had two 1st-level interviews but had not gotten any further. I do know that some if not most of the candidates were probably younger. I think in today’s workplace, employers are opting for lower cost and the younger employee generally wins. I do think it depends upon the position and the skill set the employer feels is necessary for success. In some positions, especaially entry-level, the younger worker can be trained.


July 28th, 2009
5:04 pm

I am in my early thirties. I have worked with both groups. I think I liked working with older workers better.

In MOST, but not all, cases, they had a better attitude. Also, I felt I had a lot to learn from them.


August 3rd, 2009
10:49 am

If you were a passenger taking a bus trip through the mountains with narrow roads of wild twists and sharp turns, do you want your driver to have maturity and experience, or a young recruit who has to get out his textbook every now and then?


August 3rd, 2009
11:54 am

We all know this problem exist, so how do we go about making it work for both. If we can intergrated the the two age groups, I think it would be the idea solution. The Virtual Market seems to be a good place start. If the employer don’t want the older worker on the job or in the office, then why not work them from home if they have any computer savvy. I think there is an answer to the this issue, if we just take the time to come up with a plan where it can work for every one. I am among the group of 55+ and I am unemployed. I spent the last few months trying to find work along with thinking about going back to school. I know the answer is staring us in the face and only if we are willing to give it a new breath of live can we hope to make it as older workers.


August 4th, 2009
2:48 pm

I worked with an executive assistant once who was in her late 50s. She printed out every email after she sent it to be able to “prove” she sent the emails. She was moved to another position to facilitate her early retirement phase-out, and the new assistant was in her mid-20s with a BBA. The new assistant streamlined processes and did the same amount of work in 1/4 the time the former assistant, but was let go because the boss (in her 40s) didn’t think the new assistant was “working hard enough”. Quality was identical, but it didn’t take the new assistant 20 minutes to schedule a conference room — it took her 5 minutes.

If I were hiring, I’d take the young assistant in a heartbeat over the old assistant. The young assistant was trying to prove her worth and was hoping for more important assignments after streamlining current processes, and even voiced this to the boss, but the boss preferred slow and methodical, not “what’s next?”


August 4th, 2009
3:45 pm

Being a non-traditional college student who is sacrificing a full salary while retooling myself for the job market, I certainly experience both work groups (established workers and eager want-to-be go-getters. Young people are more techy but they seem to lack business manners and are unwilling to ask older fellow workers for advice. Customer service, especially, requires a kid-glove approach; interpersonal skills and cross-generational communication skills can make or break business deals. I feel that the young business professional should humble themselves and learn from vested baby boomers. Vested baby boomers should ask questions that link the knowledge bases and they should not be too proud to learn from the young. I am definately learning from the young people on my campus. It is helping me to bridge the gap and assuring my comprehension when I do re-enter the work force. I am an HR assistant and would welcome the opportunity to V.A.


August 7th, 2009
6:01 pm

older people can learn new tricks! could someone not have told the print-out person that there was no need to do that, it’s not necessary? young people have to be taught things, as do older. I know a relative who does the same thing but if she were at work, someone could kindly explain that it’s a waste of time and trees and to move on to the next things that need doing!


August 14th, 2009
3:41 pm

Older workers…those young kids just want to play on the computers and talk with their pals on cellphones, hoping that everybody thinks they are working.


August 17th, 2009
10:57 am

I believe there is something valuable to found in both work groups. I personally would probably go with the older worker simply because of the wisdom, knowledge and patience they have learned. Young people are great as well, they have a lot of energy and input, but there are times when they want everything to be instant because they are what I call the “microwave” generation and because their mentality is “right now,” they tend to sometimes rush in some of their decision-making. I also believe that older workers are always open and willing to learn new ideas and ways of doing things better and in a less time consuming way. And if given an opportunity, I feel confident in saying, that they would more than likely be a great asset to the company that chooses to grant them employment.


August 26th, 2009
7:01 pm

I worked for 7 years in a highly successful and competitive commissioned sales environment where the average age is 28 and the average income was 60K to 100K with a 35% turnover rate . I am age 58 and I loved being around these young people. For the most part I was respected for my experience because I had children their same ages. I appreciated and respected their struggles to make a living in a very tough work environment. As a co-worker, I always tried to give them encouragement when they accepted the responsibilities of marriage, children or home ownership.. However, my experience was often viewed as a threat to their lack of confidence and their desire for personal success. To keep my job, I spent more time appealing to their egos and their desire for overnight success, than giving them any advise. Unfortunately, our company was sold and the new owners felt they could make more money paying younger people less money to do the same job without a base salary. I have a BA in Business Admin. and a proven track record of sales success. Why in 3 months have I not had a single job interview ?????


September 6th, 2009
9:03 am

Experience with people is key. I would rather hire someone who has traveled the world then a fresh college grad. BUT as far as insurance and health cost OLDER people are a drain to all corporation.


September 8th, 2009
3:33 pm

Not all older people are a drain to all corporations. I am in the 55+ age group and am both thankful and proud to be alive today. I rarely have used my insurance, but I have to admit that I have co-workers, BOTH YOUNG AND 55+, that have made the health insurance premiums continue to increase, made it much harder to qualify for FMLA and just taking a day off that you have earned has to be requested several or more months in advance (if you want to be assured to get it). So, there are guilty people on both sides of the fence. Alvin, I like the way you think. But unfortunately, it seems that because of the few the many must suffer, yet again.


September 22nd, 2009
8:26 pm

I would say the older workers would be better, but for the most part they have all been laid off. So this blog is of little consequence.


October 6th, 2009
3:16 pm

Good luck older workers looking for a job!!! You had better hope you get one with a smaller company because the larger companies have floors of lawyers to figure out how to get around the EOE laws. You almost have to be Merlin the Magician to get a job when you are over 55, at least one that includes a salary. I am very disappointed in corporate America and their rampant and blatant discrimination against older workers. As to the pertinent question here, I think a blend of older workers and younger workers is the best scenario. Let’s face it, young ones are the future of the country but they need to learn some of the life lessons from us old dudes who have been there, done that and have the t-shirt.


November 1st, 2009
2:25 pm

I’m 60 and am mad as hell. Working at a law firm was indeed challenging, even under the duress of young, talented, mostly nice attorneys – who were not necessarily equipped with the knowledge of running a team. I learned years ago how to connect with the younger set, and, have had more younger bosses than older ones. However, when it comes down to maturity and overall common sense – well!!!! “Decisions were made,” I was told. And think back after my departure, I should have seen it coming. It began with humming that I’ve down in all my working years. Tried to stop after it was brought to my attention. However, that was not the first red flag. All kinds of petty complaints that suddenly made for eye-brow raising concerns. I eventually got the boot, told on my separation notice that it was for “lack of work,” and, when questioned, (the administrator) an ex Navy man told me that seniority made little difference. I was a bit perplexed, but after the fact, reality definitely set in. Upon interviewing, it became clear to me that it would not be easy, especially since I was 1 of 2 who were actually laid off, that I worked for 4 attorneys, and, I know indeed just how busy I was. Good grief, what a crock. I had to chalk it up, and continue on my trek – but in reality, 60-years-old does not mesh well with the reasoning I try to convey to prospective employers. I feel like a fool – yet don’t want to lie. What’s a “seasoned professional” to do? I wish someone would give me some answers. The monies I made are thoroughly missed.

douglas marsh

December 7th, 2009
12:17 pm

I feel your pain as if it was my own. Wait a minute. It is. Im 57 and laid off too. I found out I was an (at will employee) and could be laid off for any reason. Thanks to God I have gotten some severance pay for my eleven years–but it is about to run out. Unemployment doesn cover many bills. It is just a trap that keeps you unemployed.


December 16th, 2009
5:50 am

I am 58,very diversified and work for a company and my pay is UNDER the National Poverty Level. Understand, I was with a company that was “bought-out” by another and I was passed over 4 times in Lay Offs. This has left me “Stranded” in Ohio in order to keep my job. I SEARCH continually for the opportunity to, at a minimum, get back home and be employed. I can not estimate the positions I apply to,with no response,and realize age discrimination is alive and well! I am sought out continually by the younger generation for answers and advice and willingly help so they are able to perform their duties. My current position is in Quality Control and I am amazed at the attitudes and poor performance displayed from them on a daily basis. I have more experience than most of them are in age! I can see what’s coming! When Corporate America wakes up, realizes it is coming to a HALT, removes these Diploma Driven Leaders from their duties and tries to start “Bailing”, there will be NO ONE who knows how! Everyone will then return “Home” to Mom and Dad, sit at their table, answer their text messages and “BITCH” to their parents as to how “WE screwed things up!
It exasperates me……………


December 21st, 2009
7:16 pm

I am in a position to hire for my facility. I look for competence, eagerness to work, and past history. Jumping from one job to another will disqualify you right away. Passing job requirement tests will get you a second interview, and having a car, day care, and schedule flexibility are all good signs you may be hired. If a resume sounds too good to be true -too much enthusiasm, no objectivity, and lack of outside interests like exercise, golf, biking, social and community volunterism, and acing the interview chances are slim-to-none you will not be hired.


December 31st, 2009
9:11 pm

This is such a great question with no clear answer. I have four ‘just out of college’ employees and three ‘over 50″ employees. They compliment each other so well. The younger ones work hard and very quickly and they are far superior to myself (I’m early 40s) and the older workers when it comes to technology. The older employees have experience on their side, so they will think things through and offer more solutions when we’re trying to problem solve; we all learn from them. The younger ones do have to be mentored more, but what a great opportunity to help them develop professionally… if you have time to do so..


January 3rd, 2010
12:53 pm

Insecurity is present in both the older professional and the younger professional. The older person is trying to ‘keep his/her job’ and the younger one is trying to ‘learn his/her job’!

I think what must happen is to have much better management in place that will openly discuss the assets of each group for one another.

Because I am in a highly technical field, most all of the employees have a strong work ethic, which they learned at university.

mad drama

January 8th, 2010
1:02 am

Enter your comments here

mad drama

January 8th, 2010
1:23 am

The main problem that I have with older employees seems to occur when the older “bosses” identify with the age rather than the work ethic. I am a supervisor in my department at a very large and dynamic healthcare facility. There have been several occasions when, given the authority, I would have fired the older employee for pure laziness and carelessness. I have tried to address these issues with my superiors to no avail. My boss is a peer of the lazy person and turns a blind eye to the constant under performance of BASIC job skills. This is not fair to me nor the younger people who are slammed very hard for comparitively minor mistakes.


January 21st, 2010
10:05 am

I totally disagree with this sentiment. I would say younger people work much harder. Usually older people get lazy after doing a job for so long. A younger person brings fire and enthusiasm to an organization, because they have the drive to succeed. Many older people I know are just working towards retirement. More people are delaying retirement however and that is delaying many younger people getting a good start in the workforce. However, I also believe age is just one factor, there are many good older and younger employees.

Misty Kelley

February 6th, 2010
6:22 pm

As a new unemployed college graduate, I will have to say that I not only disagree with your post, but am downright offended by it. To generalize that the entire younger generation you speak of is one that can’t function in the workplace without having to answer a text message, weren’t raised correctly, and were essentially spoon-fed all of their lives is in my opinion, very close-minded. There are those of us new graduates who have worked extremely hard during college academically as well as being involved heavily in campus and community who are itching to get out and prove ourselves in the workforce. The problem – viewpoints like yours. We need someone who is willing to look at our resume with an open mind, see not only or present accomplishments but our future potential, and give us a chance. My parents are well-off financially, but I am not so naive to know that they haven’t worked extremely hard to get where they are. I have never wanted for anything, but I have also been brought up in a way to appreciate what I have – and that included spankings, not time-outs. I am a ready and willing to work twenty-something who, although doesn’t have the experience of the older generation, but has a drive that is the exact opposite of the behavior you describe of my generation in your article.


March 21st, 2010
11:54 am

We All must work together…the sooner we learn that lesson, the better off the world will be…


March 31st, 2010
10:18 am

I agree that the older generation is best for stability and knowledge. They have respect for their boss and don’t expect everything at once. I was a manger over 39 employees and believe me I would take a more seasoned individual than one right out of college. Most of the older generation are actually going back to school for refresher courses. Now you have the best of both worlds. A seasoned employee with knowledge.


April 21st, 2010
10:43 am

I agree that experience is the best teacher. I know that learning from the older generation is the best form of knowledge. I am 56 as of today & been unemployed for almost a year. I have heard of the “replacements” for my prior position as a lot younger. The difference is the length of time the “replacements” have stayed. The position has turned over 5 times in the length of my unemployment. Now you tell me – is it the almighty $ keeping companies away from the “experienced” or what?


May 1st, 2010
11:48 am

I think you have to look at the individual. You can’t decided based on someone’s age. I have worked with young people who were extremely mature and hard working and would never use their computers or cell phones while on the job. Then, I’ve worked with older folks who watch the clock all day, and vice versa. You just can’t judge a book by it’s cover.


May 2nd, 2010
12:17 pm

Looking for a job? Check out http://WWW.MEDICALBITE.COM . A new National Job Search site for the Medical/ Health Industry.

Make Medicalbite.com part of your daily job search!!!!


July 17th, 2010
5:12 pm

No age holds the best-worker title, but, as an older worker, I think many younger workers don’t work as hard, but, then, many older workers are lazy and complain. Working hard makes the work-day fly, and working with differing ages keeps up morale and healthy respect, so, I’m for a balance in the workforce. I can outwork almost anyone, but it takes its toll. By the end of my 8, I’m exhausted, while the young workers are going out to party.


August 15th, 2010
2:07 am

Okay, Let’s get real! It’s all about money. The young professional just out of college will work for a great deal less than the guy with 20 years experience! Idiotic! The guy with experience will possibly be the better choice…depending on him. Why? He will most likely be more dependable, loyal, etc. Can new young people have those qualities? Sure! But with the whole attitude today of the world owes these young people a living, they are smarter-faster-more savy- and more invincible than anyone in the world… this choice may be dicey. Are all new, young perspective employees in this catagory…. No, of course not! There are many, many older workers who could be lazy, but does that mean ALL new graduates are Not lazy? NO!
Why do we believe that between black and white (or whatever) that
qualifications, personality, experience and interview impressions should dictate which applicant is hired? Or do we? And why does that not hold true for age? Which by the way, usually includes experience…but also…a track record! For myself, I would take the guy who had not missed a day out sick, wasn’t late, was honest with his dealings with internal and external customers. and most importantly remembered who’s the boss and what roll the customer has in his job and paycheck!