Is Age A Factor In Your Job Search?

Evelyn Costello

At the age of 52, I found myself job hunting. After seventeen years working for the same company, it was a truly daunting prospect. Not least because – as I’m sure most people will agree – when you’ve been at a place for a few years, you get into a certain rhythm. You see the same faces; you stop off at the same coffee shop; you sit at the same desk every day.

So, it can be scary to consider completely uprooting your day-to-day. It’s even more unsettling when you’re worried about how many employers won’t be interested because of your age. And, let’s be honest, age isn’t something you can exactly hide. On your CV, you’ll no doubt have listed when you went to university or your dates of employment. It doesn’t really take too much to work it out.

And yet, despite all of the advice that HR and recruitment professionals are given when it comes to creating job adverts – for example, you cannot ask for a candidate to have a specific number of years’ experience – I was worried. And I know I’m not alone. I have come across many candidates who are worried that they will be deemed “unemployable” because of their age, particularly if they are facing redundancy at the latter end of their career.

Can you really be on the scrapheap in your late forties or early fifties?

Conversely, many candidates who are starting out in their careers feel discriminated against because they don’t have enough experience. In fact, a CV Library study demonstrated that 52.5% of candidates aged over 55 have felt that age played a factor in being rejected for a job. That figure rises to 65.1% for under 18s. So, there are feelings of fear at opposite ends of the market.

However, the issue is probably only really being tackled at the 50 plus side of things. In America, McDonald’s recently partnered with the AARP to recruit candidates in the over 50 age bracket. There are also schemes like returners networks to help candidates back into the workplace after a career break (for whatever reason).

Whilst graduate schemes and traineeships are obviously aimed at more junior candidates, some of these still require a certain element of experience. What I always suggest to candidates at this end of the market is to try and volunteer, observe or work with the HR team in your own part-time student job. It’s a great thing to have on your CV.

I understand that it can be scary to job search at any stage in your career. Whether you have no experience or twenty years of it, you have a right to a fair and unprejudiced recruitment process.

The HRC HR recruitment team is celebrating diversity of all kinds on our company blog this month.

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