Why we’ve hired a 60+ year-old employee in the SEO-department and how it has changed the company. Boosta’s experience

11 February 2020

One of the SEO directions is link building that is the promotion of a website with the help of links. As a rule, such vacancies are interesting for young specialists who are only starting their career in the web-marketing.

Boosta, a product IT-company, has decided to go an unusual way and invite in the link builder team not students or university graduates but older people. The initiator of the Link builder 45+ project Zarina Zheliaskova has told us about how it all ended.

How the idea of the project arose

Three years ago, when I was getting a job in Boosta, I was given an interesting test task. Among other tasks, I was asked to come up with the idea of how we can increase the work time of the link building department employees. The thing is that this work is rather monotonous, and only students agree to perform it. After working for half a year – a year, they get a promotion, and the company faces employee turnover.

I’ve started thinking: what if we try to engage older people in such vacancies?

According to the governmental statistical data, in Ukraine, there are almost 400 thousand unemployed individuals among the population of 40-49 years old and 323 thousand – of 50-70 years old.

It is a huge number of people who are capable of working but can’t get employed and live with at least moderate means. They just aren’t getting hired anywhere, and employers don’t even read their resumes after seeing the line with a date of birth.

At the same time, older people have the characteristics that youngsters lack. The X Generation is not afraid of making mistakes, is ready to perform monotonous tasks, is able to motivate themselves, and is focused on the high quality and meticulousness in their work.

45+ years old specialists are perfect for the role of link builders. They don’t need any specific technical knowledge for such work; everything can be taught from scratch. And this means that we can be useful for each other. Older people will get a stable job with a relatively high income, and we’ll get responsible and diligent employees with great life experience.

We were ready for the potential difficulties that could have arisen with such employees. Usually, they need more time for learning as they aren’t familiar with the latest technologies. But these problems can be solved. What is most important is that the person needs to be willing to progress.

How have we been hiring older employees

We’ve asked recruiters to find 45+ years old people who would comply with a single requirement – they should now English on the level that is not lower than Intermediate (it is necessary for the participation in the company’s foreign projects).

Despite the minimal requirements, the search appeared to be not a simple task. Numerous candidates were afraid of the fact that they would have to learn a new profession from scratch. In the end, we’ve hired two employees. Unfortunately, one of them did not pass the probation period. However, the second one has been successfully working with us for more than a year. It’s him that I’m going to tell about in detail.

Vyacheslav is 63 years old. He used to work as a copywriter and live in China. Vyacheslav is very active and sociable, he goes in for sports and teaches yoga lessons. The link builder vacancy has become a new challenge for him.

I have asked one of the department team leads to pay special attention to the new employee. It was crucial to explain all the work nuances to Vyacheslav in all possible details, even those nuances that may seem to be obvious for a younger employee, for example, who does one register on sites. A person who has taught their mom how to use social media will understand what I am talking about.

As a result, we were providing Vyacheslav twice as much time for the familiarization with new material as for the performance of the task. This approach allowed to learn the topic precisely and avoid mistakes.

The team has loved the new employee immediately. The age gap did not become an obstacle, even though the average age in the link building department is 20-21 years. Vyacheslav has blended into the team literary from his first days of work, he has even started to participate in all corporate events and team buildings.

What difficulties with link building have arisen

We’ve engaged Vyacheslav in the crowd marketing. The task of such a link builder is to search for other websites and leave notions about his or her company at those pages. Usually, these are guest forum posts, comments, the company’s registration in business catalogs. The more such descriptions are added, the higher are the chances for making a product or a service recognizable.

In a couple of months of work, we’ve noticed that Vyacheslav was not complying with all KPI. He was doing his best to do everything with the highest, even extra quality, was giving it his 100%. For example, once, he has written a 1000 words text for a forum even though one-two paragraphs would be enough.

Vyacheslav understood that in crowd marketing, he had to focus on the speed and that the quality wasn’t that important, but he just couldn’t make himself not perfect his work.

We’ve solved this issue by transferring Vyacheslav to the team that is engaged in the outreach direction. Its principle of operation is a bit different: you need to publish articles and links at other websites. A link builder has to contact the site administrator, clarify the conditions of publishing the articles, set the task for the copywriters, and check the result later.

Such tasks suited Vyacheslav much more. We have finally found a use for his attentiveness and involvement. In outreach marketing, the main aim is high quality; you can do less there, it just has to be great.

How has the older employee affected the team

Apart from the main tasks, I’ve engaged Vyacheslav into one more, secret task – to improve the soft skills of the entire team and teach the colleagues to be more mature. Vyacheslav has managed to do that brilliantly. He communicates with colleagues all the time – at the meetings and just in the kitchen or halls, and they adopt his life experience.    

I believe that sharing experience via live communication at work is much more effective than commercial training and coaching. You create a trust-based atmosphere in the team, and the learning process goes naturally and pretty much unnoticeable.

Numerous employees have already told me that Vyacheslav had helped them to figure out different life issues, and that is the best result of the Link builder 45+ project.

We are ready to continue hiring older employees and teach them link building. I would want us to have an entire remote department of 45+ link builders, and Vyacheslav would become the head of it.

In our turn, from the company’s side, we are ready to put maximal efforts into ensuring that new employees are comfortable with changing their sphere of work and adapting to the work in a young collective.

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