Ageism – Does it Exist?

4 Minutes

Diversity has become a hot topic in the HR space, and there has been great work to make the ...

Diversity has become a hot topic in the HR space, and there has been great work to make the workplace more inclusive, particularly in regards to LGBT rights. However diversity includes so many demographics within its framework. One which I wanted to highlight is a topic that I see and hear about every day. Age.

I interview around 15 people a week, located all over the world from Asia, to Europe and onwards to the US, and I’m seeing a trend where people over 50 are struggling to find roles. In some respects it is obvious that the higher up the career pyramid you go the less opportunities exist, but not everyone who is that age profile is a senior HR executive. Some are very good at their jobs and don’t want to be senior executives. The issue seems to be that everyone is looking for the “up-and-comer” that elusive, high flying “HIPO Talent” rather than looking at what talent is on offer that has the “here and now” capability to just get on and do the job.

I’d argue that losing your job between the age of 45 and 55 is almost more worrying than coming out of university with nothing to go to. Because at this stage of your life, you could seriously struggle to get hired again. So what can the older generation do to help themselves find something new? Be flexible. Consider whether you are limiting your options in terms of salary, contracting opportunities and unwilling to learn new skillsets. The young criticise the old for being set in their ways so don’t be a stereotype. Re-evaluate your goals. Then re-evaluate again. Set a reasonable timeframe to find a job and if you’re not having success, have a think about what roadblocks are in your way – sometimes you need to shift your mind-set as to what constitutes a good opportunity.

Find a Mentor. Someone that will be honest with you about your chances and reasons why you aren’t finding something is important. While your own personal cheerleader is nice for a confidence boost, you need someone who can give you some tough love on areas of improvement. We constantly give advice to the younger generations so when we get it back, let’s take it like the experienced campaigners we are, and not throw our toys out of the pram. Consider a career-change. As in most capitalist markets, supply and demand rules. Be prepared to at some stage consider re-skilling. This is not something you do lightly but it is something that you genuinely might have to think about.

My final note is to clients/employers. I’d love to hear of ways that you are diversifying your age demographic. Does it really work like the movie Intern? If it does I’d love to hear more from you and truly start to champion a company that is wonderfully AGE-FRIENDLY.

If you would like to discuss ageism in the workplace or would like to find out more about the HR roles we are recruiting for, get in touch at