Age-related words ban slammed by recruiters

Recruitment agencies have slammed the decision by competitor Robert Walters to ban any potentially discriminatory age-related words in its job ads.

‘Dynamic’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘hungry’ are just some of the words vetoed by Robert Walters last week in response to the new age discrimination laws. The blacklist also included ‘energetic’, ‘quick learner’, ‘self-starter’ and ‘experienced’.

But John Maxted, managing director of HR recruitment firm Digby Morgan, said the move was nothing more than a publicity stunt. “It’s a lot of puff over nothing. There’s much more to the age laws than just writing ads,” he said.

Martyn Wright, director of HR search and selection company Oakleaf Partnership, said the banned words were irrelevant to the legislation. “Certain words, such as vibrant and self-starter, are not indicative of age. A person can be a ‘quick learner’ regardless of their age,” he said. But he conceded that the new regulations would make recruitment advertising a difficult business.

Robert Walters has also banned educational references including ‘recent graduates’ and ‘newly qualified’.

Steve Edwards, marketing director at Robert Walters, defended the firm’s action and insisted that certain words had clear connotations about age.

“We’re just being cautious in the absence of any specific guidance or precedence. And many of our clients have changed their ads,” he said.

Alison Hodgson, chair of the Association of Graduate Recruiters and head of resourcing at Royal Mail, said recruitment advertising should focus on talent and that “age is not part of that definition”.

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