Talent Acquisition

Recruitment: Is Age Really a Problem?

As I write this blog, I am days away from my 3*th birthday (I am NOT going to reveal my age obviously, but let’s just say, I am staring 40 down the barrel!) and yet most days, I genuinely don’t feel any different to how I did when I was 28, bar a few more grey hairs and laughter lines…..!

Age brings with it wisdom, experience, anecdotes and testimonials which allow a person to be sought out as more of an expert to their field and even their peers. In most professions, when you have been employed for over a decade (which automatically puts you in your 30s at least) this creates an impression of authority and respect (providing the person is credible, of course…!)

Recruitment – not terribly PC are we?

However, in recruitment, (the unpolitically correct recruitment sector that is the reality – sorry to sound so harsh and candid but it is true) I am regarded as somewhat of a veteran and this scares me to be honest…I’m only 3*, how can that be old??!

When asked to benchmark myself culturally by hiring clients, I have to class (pigeon hole really) myself as old skool although I am not to sure what that actually means! I started my recruitment life before mobiles, laptops and iPhone so, of course, I am not sat here now on my Spectrum 48k with my yellow pages, so what does it actually mean?? Isn’t it an empty gesture to try and define someone by purely their age, rather than their attitude, achievements and perceived potential?

In my opinion…

I have interviewed thousands of people in the 15 years I have been recruiting and one thing is for sure – you can’t base your judgement on someone’s age! I have met very OLD 23 yrs olds who are clearly desperate to appear older so they can be seen as more credible in an executive led industry (I was a bit like that, always acting older than I actually was – that stopped at 30 though!) I am convinced that psychologically people like this/me have a point to prove to older members of their family/social circle and hence act older to do this. Conversely, I have met sprightly 40-somethings who act, dress and behave as any mature 20-something would, trying to “get down with the kids” (you know the slightly embarrassing ones who still shop at Topshop aged 4* when they probably shouldn’t – but that’s a different topic altogether!)

Are we the trendsetters?

Most hiring clients base their opinion on whether someone is right for their business based on ability maturity and energy levels so perhaps we should all be setting the example as that impacts the end users – the hiring clients who refer to what recruitment businesses are doing the world over, as recruitment often sets the trends.

I would like the recruitment industry to remember this (eutopia moment) that if you are good at recruitment and your heart is in recruitment, then age should not matter. Otherwise at some point, we are all going to be too old to be doing this anyway! Ah perish the thought but if you got “too old” for recruitment, what else would you do?! (sail the world, bake cupcakes, work in charity – all of which would bore you after a month after the pace and excitement/unpredictability of recruitment, let’s face it!)

Over to you

What do you think? Is age just a number to you, your agency, or your decision on who to hire? Would you hire someone who is much older than you if they were the right person and if not, is that because they would intimidate you? If you are looking for a role – do you decide an employer is right for you because of their age? Would you work for someone in their 20s if you are in your 30s? Would you patronise them or secretly think “What the heck do you know, son?”…?

A subject matter that affects each and every one of us as one thing is certain, none of us are getting any younger! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

By Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.