Older Workers and the Importance of Online Skills

Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Internet Marketing, Web 2.0 [ 0 Comments ]

You’re an employer and you come across a potential employee with tons of experience but their online skills are minimal at best. What are the chances you will hire them?

As more and more positions involving online skills arise in the workplace, it is important for older workers who likely do not have a long history with the Internet to learn the skills sooner than later.

As an employer, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Do you hesitate in hiring an older, more experienced workers for fear they may be lacking online skills needed for the job?
  • Do you offer training i.e. paid classes for older employees you bring aboard to further their online skills?
  • What online skills are you looking for from an older individual when you consider hiring them?

According to a study from Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project, Internet usage continues to increase, especially among older individuals.

Research shows that while Americans under age 34 once again account for most of those using the Internet, older Americans make up a larger percentage of online users when it comes to blogging and social networking.

The study notes that only two years ago, 74 percent of adult American went online, but that figure increased to 80 percent in 2010. While younger individuals by far account for the most likely group to utilize social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.), older Americans are increasing their usage.

While there have been time-worn stereotypes regarding the lack of familiarity and desire with technology among older workers, that trend should be turned aside by employers.

As the economy slowly turns around and leads to more positions to fill, employers should not automatically disqualify older individuals who may have been running late to the technology/Internet revolution from a job offer.

A Forrester Research Study notes to the surprise of some that following Gen X Workers, Baby Boomers over 55 were most apt to utilize social tools in the office.

Even more telling is an iStrategyLabs report, which notes that the number of Facebook users over 55 was skyrocketing, while the percentage of high school and college-age users was falling. The study also points out that 50 percent of employees 55 and older using social media in the workplace do so daily. Finally, those 55-and-over boomers have grown their business usage of social media by nearly 80 percent in the last year.

Make it your business when hiring to look at the total package of your applicants; older employees may be more logged into the Internet than you originally thought.

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