The Grumpy Old Man

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Age discrimination is alive, well and still thriving in the Recruitment Market
Note:this grump was originally published in April 2017, and updated in November 2018

Does Mature Experience Mean nothing in the Recruitment Market?

I see from a recent issue of the Daily Telegraph that a fifty-one-year-old lady PA in London is having problems securing employment after redundancy. She says she believes part of the problem is age discrimination.

Grumpy hates to point out to her, but age discrimination in the employment market has been rife for many years and in his view, age discrimination is probably the only problem she has. I admire her determination and obvious lateral thinking in securing six or eight column inches in the one newspaper most widely read by people who may be willing to employ her. In fact, I believe the article in the Telegraph is by far her best bet.

From Grumpy's own experience he saw that, of the people made redundant with him, those who managed to secure employment invariably did so through their own old boy network.

However, although Grumpy admires this lady and her novel tactics, the number of CV's she has handed out falls far short of the number he distributed when at age forty-nine he was seeking employment. His records show that over five thousand copies of his CV were distributed. Some were for advertised vacancies but many copies also went to recruitment agencies.

Grumpy always accepted his age would be against him. However, he came from a background and era when a Grammar School education and University Degree meant something. He believed that as an Electronics Engineer with considerable experience of computers and Information Technology, employment would be possible.

He did not restrict himself to his particular field. Although he did respond to technical vacancies, he also applied for many posts that would embrace his wider range of experience. From those five thousand copies of his CV, he received probably two hundred responses. Many of these suggested that the writer could see no problem in securing employment for Grumpy. From those responses came approximately twelve interviews.

Many of the interviews went well and the interviewer indicated that he believed he would be able to find Grumpy a post within his organisation. It can be safely said, none of the interviews were a disaster. However, each one had its own strange peculiarities. Perhaps more importantly though, no employment was forthcoming (even when promised at interview!)

As an example of just how unusual some of these interviews were, I recall a company I had written to in Ireland sending their Personnel Manager to a conference in London. At the time I was living in Northumberland. The Personnel Manager contacted me and suggested since the conference opened on Monday and he was travelling over on the Sunday, I might like to meet him. During the discussion I pointed out that many of the staff he was currently recruiting would probably only stay for three to four years and the company would then be faced with the added expense of recruiting a replacement. My situation was that I had already done a "busy, busy" job and would even be happy with something that had the potential to see me through to retirement in some ten or fifteen years time. The Personnel Manager agreed that from a company view, this approach could represent a significant long term saving and this was a huge plus in my favour.

He seemed genuinely excited at what I had to offer and pointed out as Personnel Manager he would have to discuss any potential offer with his "techies". Even then, no offer was forthcoming and I suspect that the people he spoke to were concerned about the security of ther own positions if somebody with more experience was recruited. Perhaps they were worried I might be wanting to run the show in six months time displacing them from their position.

At the end of the day, employment as Grumpy knew it was not to be. My advice for the young lady in the Telegraph is to be flexible, find new avenues to tap into with your talents just like Grumpy has with this website at the ripe old age of 73.

Having said that, I wish her the best of luck, she is certainly going to need it, and offer her the motto 'Nil Illegitemae Carborundum' (which roughly translates as; Never let the b------s grind you down)

Note:this grump was originally published in April 2017, and updated in November 2018

Since then I have seen in the newspapers various comments about such matters as "raising the retirement age" and "encouraging those who are close to retirement to stay in their jobs". I sometimes wonder what planet the originators of such statements are actually living on, as it is most certainly not the same one as occupied by Grumpy. There is little point in making these crass statements unless steps are taken to remove the spreading discrimination of ageism in the workplace. This is not just a British problem, an Irish problem or even a European problem. It seems that ageism is rife worldwide. I base this statement on a recent report that Big Blue (IBM) have launched an internal enquiry into the incidence of ageism in their company.

The fact that such an enquiry has been even discussed let alone publicly launched would suggest that ageism is rife in IBM and is beginning to cause problems.

Grumpy accepts that this particular problem is not one that can be easy to address or will go away quickly. It is based on cultural views of People's capabilities at different ages. Within this context, I must refer to the old adage that

At age twenty we think we know it all, at age sixty we are conciously aware that the only "all" we know is "bugger all". (Such wisdom can only come from experience and certainly Grumpy's view is that at twenty we see life in terms of black or white decisions, as life progresses and one's wisdom (from experience) increases, one realises that travelling through life is like travelling through a thick fog, the skill comes in successfully navigating that fog. Such success can only come from that nebulous attribute lacking in the twenty-year-old called experience.