When it comes to looking for a job, age is just a number...

Cheltenham and across Gloucestershire

As a career coach one of the biggest challenges I face in coaching my more mature clients is not to do with helping them to explain and demonstrate the skills, competencies and experience that I know employers need them to have but instead overcoming the imagined barriers around age that they have already burdened themselves with.

I talk a lot about personal brand in my work and although it might sound a bit of a strange concept to some of you, it is really just about understanding what makes you unique and special in the world and as a result how the world experiences you day to day. I focus on this concept with clients who may sadly have a perspective on the job market that they are 'too old' 'out of touch' or 'not what employers are looking for' because when the preconceptions about age are removed it is really just about whether you can do the job that you are applying for.

The Equality Act (2010) makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of their age. So let's assume from the start that you have the law behind you and that IF you measure up against the other candidates in terms of the key skills, competencies and experience* that you must be considered alongside all of the other candidates on merit. If you believe during any recruitment process that you have experienced discriminatory treatment then get legal advice and take steps; it is illegal and we all owe it to each other to make sure fairness is applied in all recruitment processes. In reality there is no point blaming discrimination for not getting the job if you are not prepared to highlight it...

I wanted to be clear on that point because I think that sadly too many mature candidates persuade themselves that they will not get 'the job' because of their age. Not true! But if you act as if you expect that to happen then you will not be at your best and your assumption might end up a self-fulfilling prophecy. Blaming the employer for being biased against more mature candidates can be an easy way out when the harder (and more beneficial) thing to do is to ask yourself do you really have the skills, competencies and experience that the employer needs to see? And if not do you need to retrain, re-educate or refocus on more realistic career options?

The first step in any 'job hunt' is to get your CV reviewed, updated and shaped towards the type of role you are looking for. A few tips to avoid any 'age' related assumptions being made by recruitment agencies, employers or potential interviewers are; don't state your date of birth (you don't need to), provide information about your last 10 years of work experience only in your career history section you don't need to add it all. Maybe adding 'Previous Experience' and summarising jobs before then might be an idea, use a font that is not Times New Roman and adopt a CV layout which is modern, relevant and informative.

Your CV is essentially a marketing flier to attract interest in you as a candidate; it should be as informative, interesting and 'you' as possible, so use language that reflects your personality and use the first person in your Personal Statement not the third person which could read like something Dickens might have written! 

Applications using a CV written five years ago will not get you anywhere, spend time on making your CV something you are proud of.  Think about the vocabulary, terminology and structure you use; if your CV reads like a CV from the 1990's you'll be treated like a candidate from the 1990's - it's nothing to do with discrimination just relevance to the role and you making the effort to try to speak the same language as the employer / recruiter.
Go and meet any recruitment agency that you want to help you to find work. Get them to understand what makes you who you are, your inter-personal skills and enthusiasm. They will be able to represent you far more effectively if they understand what makes you tick.
My main advice is for you to forget the age thing; if you do then everyone else is more likely to. Be positive about your appeal as a candidate if you truly know that you have the skills, competencies and experience that the market wants. If you don't have them then get out there and acquire them and then put them to work.

Much has been written about the ideal age range within a team, the fact that more mature employees take less sick leave and that 'younger' employees are more likely to move jobs but I would ask you to just focus on being the best version of you that you can be both on paper and in person and to invest the energy, commitment and positivity that every other candidate will be investing and you will get your rewards.

Age is just a number; skills, competencies and experience are actually what decides if you get the job or not. 

Paul Goring
Managing Director - Consortio Limited

* Skills - what you have learned to do
  Competencies - what natural personality and performance attributes you possess
  Experience - where, for how long and to what level you have done all of the above



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