Something I get asked quite frequently is, am I too old for this position? Or am I too young? It’s a quandary we are faced with these days as people are stuck between the youth with no experience, or the experienced person in their late 50’s, who do we hire, if we ignore the youth, how will we grow for the future, and if we neglect the elder, we lose out on a life time of experience.The truth is, that it was only around 10 years ago we actually had legislation passed preventing discrimination on age, something which may or may not have had any affect. It used to be that, you schooled, you learnt a trade or vocation and were set for life. These days, it’s not uncommon for young people to hop around several industries before finding the type of work they like, and even then, they move between companies for any reason from pay to work/life balance. And as for the over fifties, it’s incredibly common for them to look for a new career after they reach that big fiftieth birthday.
It’s at this point in their life they decide that, however much they loved the career they were in, they realise they want to try something new, and quite often, there’s not much financial focus on this, as with age you realise that money doesn’t always equal happiness, that life in fact, is more about self-fulfilment, and with the retirement age being further away than ever, they want to think about how they’ll spend the next 20-30 years, and unfortunately a Porsche boxter and getting your hair dyed just doesn’t cut the mustard these days.
When people ask if they should put their age on their CV, I say they don’t need to, they can if they like, but we can tell your age from looking at when you left school, or the sheer length of your CV, and to be quite frank, age isn’t important as both sides of the coin have their own benefits, we’ve all seen Robert di Nero in the Intern, he didn’t do too badly.Then we come to youth, they might not have spent 5 years using a particular software, however don’t think it’ll take them a long time to come up to speed, this generation grew up with computers, consoles and the internet, they’re as good with computers as their grandparents are with mechanics and DIY, toddlers these days can use iPads so it won’t take long for a 16 to 25-year-old to learn sage.
If an older candidate is applying for a role, you can’t just assume because they might be over qualified they aren’t serious, if a 55 year old is applying to be a trainee, they may well be committed to the idea of completely starting a new career and staying until they’re in their seventies, this is the same as me or you starting after we graduate and looking to stay somewhere until we are in our mid-forties, it’s a long period of time, plenty for a full career for these experienced people.
It’s why, in recruitment you need to speak to people, I’ve stressed this in previous blogs, that it’s all very well talking via email or text, or reading a CV, but without actually speaking to someone, at a minimum over the phone, how can you really tell who they are and what they want to achieve, it’s hard to get all that passion and information onto a few hundred characters on a CV.
So whilst you may well say no to an unqualified 21 year old applying for a management position, when it’s an over qualified person applying for a very junior role in a different field, speak to them, find out why they want to move, you may well discover that there is plenty they have to offer your organisation and that they might inspire the other trainees in their group, that’s what we’re all about at IBP, being Inspired by People, and realising that everyone has more to offer than is always apparent by looking at their work history.
What are your thoughts on ageism and second careers? We’d love to know your opinions on this subject, and what other areas you find are not spoken about enough. However, I’ll leave you with this, life is too short for what if’s, and if there is a career path you have dreamt of pursuing, investigate it and consider it, personal development can only be achieved through self-fulfilment after all.