Are recruiters and HR ageist?

l I empathised with the letter from the 46 year old who suffered the brunt of ageism. I am 47 and was made redundant last year and have found it very difficult to get meaningful work.

I am now in a personnel-related position where I can recruit, and my instructions to a recruitment agency would contain the words mature and experienced. With fewer young people in the marketplace, and people choosing to work longer because of improved health, it is madness to disregard a resource with the key ingredients of work ethic, reliability, experience and knowledge.

Does my 30 years of business experience count for nothing against a school leaver or graduate with no practical experience? It would seem so. Recruitment agencies are full of 20-somethings who simply cannot relate to older candidates; all they see is their mum or dad walking in the door.

Employers plump for young people who are brash and full of confidence – they pay to train them, pay them inflated salaries and then wonder why these youngsters leave or attempt to blackmail their way into another salary bracket.

It is time HR and recruitment agencies actively attempt to redress this senseless and upsetting discrimination – studies have shown the older employee is more productive and committed than their younger colleagues, but sadly, most things are directed at the young.

Debra Rixon

Personnel admin assistant, ESRI (UK) Ltd

l I am a 49 year old and having been made redundant twice last year, I have found the recruitment market appalling.

HR and recruitment have much to learn regarding communication and fighting their corner on ageism, particularly when you consider they are people businesses.

I have had a successful career in financial services over the past 20 years but it seems experience and maturity count for nothing. Fortunately, there are one or two recruitment agencies that do care but they are far and away in the minority. A lot start with good intentions but just fail to deliver.

I have more determination, energy and enthusiasm now than when I was in my 20s, and I would like to ask ‘why am I being ignored?’.

Harry Geary

Via e-mail

l There is life in HR well beyond the age of 46 – I am 57 – but the trick is to be flexible. I took voluntary redundancy two years ago from a position to which I was appointed, initially on a short fixed-term contract at the ripe old age of 50, and since then have continued to work by adopting the following principles:

q Forget blue-chip companies as they tend to be in the vanguard of offloading the middle aged.

q Focus on short-term contracts, be they interim or locum positions. They enable you to get your foot in the door and prove what you have got to offer.

q Consider geographical flexibility – a Monday and Friday commute can be less of a hardship if the role is stimulating and for a limited period.

q Be flexible on sectors – most of my career has been in the private sector but the public sector seems to be less ageist and more open to taking on private sector expertise.

When it comes to recruitment agencies, I think we have to bear in mind that they are, at heart, outfits dedicated to maximising sales income. A good number are staffed by people who would do equally well in double glazing or second-hand car sales and interest in the well being of an applicant does not show up on their radars.

Phil Hodson


l I was made redundant by a large publishing company in December and have mainly relied on HR agencies to assist me in finding employment. I would very much like to know the criteria these companies use on their CV database, as time and time again I have been called to attend an interview only to be told a day later that the position has been filled. Sometimes it is worse – I receive a standardised rejection letter that has not even be signed.

Also, it would be nice to be contacted by an HR consultant who has actually worked in HR and not a high-volume, high-turnover graduate trainee.

I have now secured a very exciting role as the HR manager for a global cosmetics company, and was placed by McKenzie Douglas in Windermere. The support and advice they gave really kept me motivated and the question of ‘who motivates the motivator’ was certainly answered by the consultants – who have worked in HR for some years.

The bigger the agency is not always the better agency in my opinion, so look around.

Matt Oliver


Comments are closed.