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Ageism in Slovakia: Recruitment

The elephant in the room about which people are reluctant to talk is the effect of age group on calibre of candidates. Eighty per cent of the employees at IBM Slovakia are under 25. Similar numbers apply to Dell (I was at their autumn party at the Design Factory in Bratislava and saw the phenomenon with my own eyes). I don’t have the Siemens numbers.

In my own recruitment project, I had a mixed group of resumés for what ended up being two positions. CV’s for the most part came with date of birth. The best candidates were almost invariably younger. I had no bias against hiring someone a little older.

My inclination for a more mature candidate went against the recommendation of my recruitment manager. He recommended hiring young and training up. But I was specifically seeking someone around 30 with good experience who would be ready to work. I’d rather not lose my time in training and we could afford to pay well for someone who can do the work properly straight away.

Amazingly enough the older candidates for the most part were unexceptional. The work they had done in the past was not great. Their salary demands were excessive in line with their talents. They had a bunch of skills next to useless to Foliovision (.net, ASP, Flash, java: what we needed was CSS, PHP, Rails if you’re interested).

For the most part, their demo sites were atrocious flash messes. In the best case some horrible CMS with some very basic graphics slapped on top of its out of the box layout.

One older candidate (thirty-four) who I interviewed turned out to be a catastrophe with made up stories of employment and perennial conflicts with his boss. A slightly older candidate (just over thirty) whom we took on a short trial didn’t turn out well either: competent but very inflexible in her way of doing things with no inclination to learn new things.

In the social scene, I’ve noticed similar traits as well in the different age groups. The people who are inclined to work hard and learn here are the young. These findings are only in Bratislava. I have not yet been to East or South Slovakia.

So despite my best intentions of hiring older and more experienced workers, I had to follow George’s advice and take on younger individuals. For instance, our new junior programmer is just twenty-one. While he is somewhat less reliable than an older person (he sometimes forgets appointments both in and out of work), he does some very good work and learns very quickly.


  1. Thanks for that link, K. That is a very useful table for me.

    Anyone who is reading my original article should be sure to look at the table of IT salaries.

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  3. Darko Darko

    So how OLD are YOU now, buddy? Let’s assume you were 25 when you wrote this article WAY BACK in 2006, wow, that’s ages ago isn’t it? Well, that would make you 32 this year! So, join the club of ‘old people’. I hope you realize now that you are one the other side of the fence now! So, I hope you get your just reward. After all, what comes around, goes around. You deserve to be discriminated against!

  4. I’m older than that but learned two languages in the last five years to working proficiency and just came back from an evening of Slovak folk dancing tonight.

    Staying relevant and energetic is hard work.

    Amusingly enough, the middle generation of Slovaks is better educated and harder working than those in early university now. The Americanisation went a bit too far and now there’s a whole generation of California living type kids who believe that a pretty smile and a bit of English will get them a villa on the beach.

    The generation after them will probably be hungrier and harder working.

  5. Darko Darko

    Way to go Alec! You’re never too ‘old’ to learn a foreign language.

    As an American (ironically from California), I’m appalled to read that IBM Slovakia and DELL Slovakia reportedly practise blatant ageism in their hiring practises.

    Admittedly, I wrote my first comment in haste. After all, I am emotionally charged by this issue. Hence, I overlooked a typographical error in my first comment. Notwithstanding, this article is full of errors and the author’s writing style is poor and downright boring. The blog author should review his use of English grammar, something the younger generation is lacking. To show that US citizens can also learn UK spelling, I will be a European, and, in the spirit of my dual citizenship, I will be a Brit. For example:

    1. Never use a comma before ‘that’. As a general rule, a comma is used before the word ‘which’, but not always.

    2. Never begin a sentence with ‘but’ (even the current British Prime Minister should know this rule. However, he began at least two sentences with ‘but’ during the course of his speech on Thursday. But’ is a conjunction (remember and, but and or?)-I only used ‘but’ at the beginning of the last sentence insofar as I merely mentioned the word.

    3. Inconsistencies with regards to using who and whom. Sometimes the author used it correctly, while at other times, he used the word incorrectly: One older candidate (thirty-four) who I interviewed – Should be …. whom I interviewed…

    4. ‘Amazingly enough the older candidates…’ Should read: Amazingly enough, the older candidates (a comma is required here!).

    5. They had a bunch of skills next to useless.. In this sentence, ‘which’ should have been used: They had a bunch of skills, which were next to useless ….. Revise this sentence entirely, as it is too wordy!

    6. Their demonstration sites for the most part were atrocious flash catastrophes. In this case, the author has two options: 1) Their demonstration sites (for the most part) were atrocious flash catastrophes; and 2) Their demonstration sites, for the most part, were atrocious flash catastrophes. Well, I find this article to be atrocious.

    7. I haven’t been to East or South Slovakia yet. Oh boy, please revise this sentence. Never mind! I’ll do it for you:

    8. I have yet to visit Eastern or Southern Slovakia; or 2) I haven’t been to Eastern or Southern Slovakia. Go south! Move out west, but Bavaria is in Southern Germany, or, ‘It never rains in Southern California.’

    9. One older candidate (thirty-four) who I interviewed…. Only spell out numbers up to twelve. We have ten candidates. Correct: One older candidate (34) whom I interviewed… Please revise this sentence, as it is quite wordy.

    10. So despite my best intentions of hiring older and more experienced workers, … The word ‘so’, as it is used in this context, i.e. at the end of a sentence, if very colloquial, and, quite frankly, not very professional. However, if you insist on using it at the beginning of a sentence, you should write: So, despite my best….

    The author of this blog entry likes to use the word ‘catastrophe’ as it relates to older applicants or workers whom he encountered. If I were to use one word to describe his article, it would be catastrophe!


  6. Darko Darko

    P.S. it’s either resume or résumé and NOT resumé. I just thought you’d like to know. And you are inconsistent. Either call it a résumé (US and Canadian English) or a CV (UK and Irish usage).

  7. Hi Darko,

    Thanks for the copy editing. Pretty good close reading.

    I really do have a problem with starting sentences with but. I do believe the barriers between spoken and written communication should be broken down. If you read through Shakespeare, the copy editing and commas are awful as well.

    There’s always someone to fix the punctuation later. I’ll try harder though in the future. I hate to think what would happen if you read “Celebrating Sacre in Graz”.

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