Does age limit our success in getting the role we want ?

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I met a wonderful potential candidate last week with over 20 years experience in her chosen field. She was made redundant last year and in her search for a new challenging position she has felt that her age (53) has had a negative impact on her success in getting an interview. This lady has wonderful communication skills, confidence in what she knows and is very eager to work.

6 months ago I contacted a candidate for a role. He was shocked that I had contacted him because in 2 years of looking he had not received an acknowledgement not to mention a call about any position he had applied for ( he was 55). This blog is my small attempt to do justice to those candidates who come to us in the hope of helping them secure a role they want.

We need to question our beliefs about the suitability of mature candidates for roles. I’m not suggesting positively discriminating in favour of older people but certainly not ruling someone out on the basis of their age. Our personalities (those characteristics that remain stable over time) don’t change dramatically when we reach 50. We don’t become more set in our ways, grumpy, bossy or anything else negative. We are who we are at 30, 40, 50. What we don’t have at 30, have some of at 40 and definitely lots at 50 is a wealth of experience, perspective and wisdom you can’t get anywhere else. Not only have you an eager employee but a potential mentor to those younger employees who should soak up the knowledge available from this valuable resource.

There is a simple coaching tool which when considering the pros and cons of a taking a specific action involves writing the pros on one side of a page and the cons on the other side of the page. I think any prospective employer who does this objectively with respect to considering a mature applicant for a role will find the pros outweigh the cons.

The majority of us, I hope, will reach 50, 60 and over. At 46 myself I am very much aware that should I ever decide to go back to working for someone else I am fast approaching that age when I will be considered too old. Our interviewers should consider that they too will reach the ripe old age of 50 too !

Our beliefs are just that, they are our way of looking at things. Sometimes our beliefs don’t serve us well. This is one belief I feel which doesn’t serve many wonderful candidates and many wonderful organisations which would be even more successful with the addition of such people.

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