When age is just a number

So there’s been a running joke at OX Seven about how I’m the eldest in the office.  Typical jibes about zimmer frames, bad backs and poor hearing are thrown at me on a weekly basis.  Fortunately with Richard now on-board the label of ‘Grandad’ has been taken off my hands (thanks Richie).

Subsequently, this got me thinking about age in the context of recruitment.  We all have preconceived and prejudicial tendencies from time to time based on someone’s personal profile; this candidate lives on a farm so they must own a cow, this person used to be a doorman so they must be 6’3″ and built like a brick shithouse etc.  My sin was, until recently, to look at a CV, see that an individual was born in the 1950s or 60s and question whether they would be the right fit for the company I was recruiting for.  The client will have used words in their brief to us when describing the ideal applicant like ‘vibrant, dynamic and eager’ all of which conjure up certain images of the archetypal person they are looking for.  However, I’ve come to understand pretty quickly that these preconceived ideas rarely play out in reality, and if you start discriminating a certain demographic when sourcing for a position you will be missing out on some really excellent candidates.

A perfect example happened a short while ago.  I submitted two people for the same role, complete with video interviews, fully expecting the one who was considerably younger in her years to be given a face to face interview.  What happened?  The complete opposite.  The passion, drive and knowledge displayed by the older applicant, both on her CV and in the video, impressed them immensely and they have arranged to see her for a face to face interview.

For me this is a lesson well learned and is something I am very conscious of whenever I am reviewing resumes and sourcing for new roles.  Don’t dismiss people straight out of hand based on a trait that is outside of their control.  Their attitude and conduct should be the primary factor in your consideration, not a date on a page.

Adam Williams

Technical & Engineering Consultant

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