Have a rant: Age discrimination legislation madness

The decision by recruitment agency Robert Walters to ban so-called ‘age-related’ words from its ads (Personnel Today, 31 October 2006) is a typical knee-jerk over-reaction to new legislation.

How do terms such as ‘quick learner’ and ‘vibrant’ have anything to do with how old you are? Surely it’s about your attitude rather than your age. I’ve certainly seen plenty of vibrant and intelligent 40-somethings in my 10 years as an HR professional. I’ve also encountered some very laconic 20-somethings who feel they are owed a good job after three years of partying and attending the odd lecture.

Banning the terms ‘newly qualified’, ‘recent graduate’ and ‘experienced’ seems completely unnecessary, too. Most job descriptions usually specify how many years’ experience you need to be considered suitable for the job, and the level the role is pitched at. Candidates need to have a rough idea of what the company is looking for, and we in HR also have specific briefs to fulfil. Omitting all these terms will probably mean we get flooded with a load of completely irrelevant CVs from people who are unsuitable for the job.

I am all for promoting a less ageist workplace, but changing the wording in recruitment advertising isn’t the way to do it.

We will always need recent graduates and more experienced workers to keep the job market going, and I don’t see why saying so is ageist. In my view, a person’s age does not affect their ability to do a job.

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