More people want to work beyond traditional retirement age

With people living longer comes the dual opportunity and challenge of how to support yourself and keep yourself active in the workplace and socially. More and more people are keen to keep on working post traditional retirement ages. Some people are looking to increase their income, others to just contribute back to society with their years of expertise. However many of these older would-be workers are facing ageism in their attempt to rejoin the workplace.


Unconscious or conscious bias?

First of all, the adverts themselves can be off-putting to older applicants through the language or the imagery used. Words such as ‘energetic’ or ‘young spirited’ or even ‘office ninja’ can be off-putting to an older applicant who actually has the skills and attitude to be able to do the job really well. 



Companies can also select to ‘avoid’ or not show their job opportunities to older workers. 


On Facebook, companies can post jobs which enables them to illegally focus on younger candidates. Take the example of Shell who used Facebook’s targeted-advertising tools to ensure that only people aged 18-35 were able to see the post. Older workers did not even see the job advert.

Even if you are able to see the advert and then do apply, your years of experience can actually count against you. Look at the results of the Anglia Ruskin University study in 2015 where two sets of CVs were submitted in response to almost 2,000 job adverts. Half the CVs were from a fictional 28-year-old, the other half from a fictional 50-year-old, but otherwise the candidates had identical skills and interests. 


The 50-year-old candidate was 3.6 times less likely to be offered an interview. It may be unconscious bias, but it is bias nonetheless.


If you do get an interview, then we have heard many a story about the older job interviewee being discriminated against on account of what they wore to the job interview, being dressed too ‘old fashioned’ or ‘not representing what our brand is about’. 

So what happens? Older job applicants get discouraged from using traditional job sites and turn to other avenues, such as specialist older worker jobs boards where they know that every employer on those sites is keen to hire an older worker.

Age as an asset

So what can we do about this recruitment ageism? We need more awareness that age is not a barrier to new skills or to new team members. In fact, age brings many positives to a business. 

Older workers have more experience, more loyalty, better listening and empathy skills, and are often more motivated. Who wouldn’t want a person like that in their team?

For more information about No Desire to Retire, visit their website.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.