The employment chance of (older) job-seekers is mainly determined by the ratio between the labour productivity and labour costs of candidates. Personnel policy, perceptions, prejudices, ageism, psychological processes at the potential employer and the method of recruitment and selection all play a much smaller role.

That is the outcome of an SEO study that was subsidized by Instituut Gak. The study used a conjoint analysis and a series of additional interviews. In the conjoint analysis a group of more than 2,500 executives were asked multiple times to choose between two hypothetical candidates for a position that was common within their organization. When choosing who they think the best candidate for the job is, they weigh characteristics of job-seekers that best fit the position that needs to be filled. One of those characteristics is the applicant’s age. The choices that are made provide information about factors that play a bigger or smaller part in their assessment. This conjoint analysis can provide supportive information on the factors that are decisive in hiring (older) job-seekers.

The factors that were studied with regard to the hiring of (older) job-seekers are the ratio between labour costs and labour productivity of employees, the employment risks faced by employers, the differences between positions and professions that make candidates more or less suitable, the organization’s personnel policy, whether or not focused on older employees, ageism, perceptions and prejudices at the employer, labour-related psychological factors that may or may not create a ‘click’ between the manager as a job offerer and the applicant, and the method of recruitment and selection. This broad perspective of economic and psychological motives results in a study that provides a balanced picture of the factors that are important in the recruitment of older job-seekers.