HR Minute

Digital Immigrants Need Not Apply?

I have a confession to make: today I learned that in some circles I am what is known as a "Digital Immigrant." This means that I did not grow up in the digital age, rather that I came into the digital age as an adult. My voyage has been long and arduous, and I am sure that I lost sight of the New World many times. I do not speak the language fluently. Yet here I am in 2015, blogging!

The polar opposite of a Digital Immigrant is known as a "Digital Native." Digital Natives were raised in a digital time, and as such are comfortable with technology. Digital Natives founded many of the technology start-ups that are ingrained in our daily lives, and those that are right around the corner.

Many businesses desire the services of Digital Natives. Some companies have even advertised that they are seeking Digital Natives for job openings. This has created a possible legal exposure for some companies, however. It can be argued that "Digital Native" is a techie euphemism for "younger person," and there are federal and state laws prohibiting age discrimination in hiring decisions. By screening out Digital Immigrants, the pool of job applicants can be impermissibly tainted.

Employers should be very wary of advertising positions for Digital Natives. Similarly, companies should carefully review the wording of internal and external job postings for other words or phrases that can be considered code words for illegal discrimination (e.g. "youthful").

After all, I'd like to think that Digital Immigrants have something to offer in the New World. I may not have been born in the digital age, but I kinda like it here.

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