Ageism in Recruitment

Written by Orla Treacy

Why is somebody's age such an important filter for so many companies?

Our clients will regularly tell us that they don't want to see candidates over a certain age. I recently had a client specifically tell me that she didn't want to see any candidates over 35 because the General Manager of their company was 42 and wanted "a young team". Frankly speaking, I don't think it makes any sense to discriminate against candidates' age.

I proactively conducted a survey of 20 candidates I placed in a variety of companies between 2010 and 2013 and checked whether or not they were still in the same position or same organization. The majority were not in either. Therefore, this eliminates the "lack of runway" criterion imposed by clients. If I place a 32 year old in a role for 5 years and they add value and then move along to a new company or I place a 52 year old in a role for 5 years and they do the same thing, what's the difference? Why would an organization hire one over the other simply based upon their age? This needs to change as the policy, so frequently applied, does not benefit anybody. How many talented and very experienced candidates suffer when looking for a career move because of their age?

I would like to influence the age criterion filter, also know as ageism, in the recruitment industry and make people aware of the fact that career paths change direction so frequently nowadays that the idea of somebody joining a company for the rest of their lives is outdated.