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Age discrimination - is it a problem?

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I quite often read comments on Linkedin and in the newspapers about the problems older people face getting a job and it is always put down to employers discriminating against age. However, I am not convinced this is the case, partuclarly when the latest employment statistics are showing more older people than ever in work. Whilst there are undoubtedly, even now some cases of age discrimination against older workers, there are other reasons older workers get turned down. I thought I'd look at a few of these this week.  


1) Long CV's are a complete turn off for recruiters. A CV should be no more than two pages. Two and a half if you must but we don't have time to read novels of your life. If you have a long career history, you may wonder how to cut your CV back. Quite simply, we tend to be interested in the last ten years. Anything before that is ancient history. 

2) Make your CV relevant to the job ad. You may be terribly proud of an achievement some time ago and be determined to include it on your CV but if it's not relevant to what I am looking for, it won't be of interest to me. 

3) Don't put your date of birth on your CV or dates of when you were at school. If there are age discriminators out there, you don't want to encourage them. 


1) Do not talk down to your interviewer even if they are a lot younger than you. I had this happen to me quite a lot in the early stages of my career and it is really irritating and doesn't get you anywhere.

2) Similarly, do not assume that you know more than your interviewer. Treat them as an equal. Again, in the early stages of my recruitment career, older people would say to me "I don't know if you understand but..." As I had spent some time training to be an accountant myself, I did understand what they were saying and found it very patronising. If you patronise your interviewer, they are going to assume you will be like that with their younger staff and it doesn't take you any further in the process.

3) Answer the question!! I do find that some older people have a tremendous capacity for waffle instead of answering the interviewer's question. It's not a good sign if you notice your interviewer's eyes starting to glaze over. I had one incident that always sticks with me from the 1980's. I asked a gentleman a spoecific question to which he answered, "Let me take you back to 1965!" He then proceeded to take me through his life history in great detail despite me trying very hard to bring him back to the point. Needless to say he didn't get the job.

Finally there is that old perennial, "You have too much experience". I can see the argument that this is ageist but if you are a qualified accountant applying for a purchase ledger role then it is also truthful. It doesn't mean the company is being ageist. They may well have recruited an older person to do the role but someone who has always been a purchase ledger clerk.

To sum up, if you get your application and interview skills right, then I think there is very little real ageism around these days. I frequently place older people and most employers see them as reliable and hard working and value the experience they have. Certainly the days or pure ageism which I saw in the 1980's when certain large companies wouldn't employ you if you were over 40 are long gone.

Have a good week.