Older vs. Younger

As a soon-to-be college graduate, I haven’t dwelled much upon what my entering the workforce means for those already established in the field. A PR and communication professional group on LinkedIn recently posted the question, “Would you hire someone over 45?”

AP Style violation aside (“older than” not “over”), this post brought up a lot of interesting points. With the economy still not fully recovered, some companies are cutting staff, salaries and benefits to replace older employees with college graduates. Their logic is that the younger generation is cheaper to hire but has the same or more relevant and valuable skills.

Naturally, those who have been in the field for a long time are very critical of this approach. One group member criticized that while the youngsters may have mastered communicating via computers, they lack the “experience, talent, fortitude, common sense and basic skills” that an employer expects.

I find this criticism especially harsh (obviously, this person hasn’t worked with any UNT alumnae), but I think the underlying argument has some merit. No amount of classroom training can replace years of real-world experience.

I also feel that this statement is incredibly hypocritical. This person criticizes companies for assuming that older PR professionals have become obsolete, yet she assumes that all budding professionals are incompetent and incapable.

In our defense, what my generation lacks in real-world experience, we make up for with a strong understanding of emerging technology and textbook PR. We also offer a fresh, new perspective on a company’s existing processes and challenges. And as for real-word experience, most graduates have completed internships.

It’s unfortunate that any company would compromise their public perception just to save money. I certainly agree that someone with limited professional experience is unlikely to completely replace a seasoned veteran. Ironically, I think a company that uses this approach as a cost-saving measure will ultimately see their bottom lines suffer.

 

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