The Age-Old Issue

As the saying goes: none of us are getting any younger. And with an ageing workforce and the expectation that generations to come will work well into their sixties, ageism in employment is becoming a very real issue.

Research by totaljobs has revealed that almost two-thirds (63%) of 55-64 year olds have felt discriminated against by a prospective employer during the interview process because of their age, and that worryingly, only 6% see their age as an advantage when applying for a job.

Rather than being valued for their greater experience and wisdom, older workers are feeling overlooked when coming up against millennials in the jobs market.

On the flip side, just one third (33%) of 16-24 year-olds told us that they had experienced age discrimination during the interview process, with this number falling to around 20% for 25-44 year-olds, a stark contrast to the 63% of 55-64 year olds.

Once jobseekers reach 35, they are much more likely to see their age as a disadvantage than as an advantage.

The good news is that there are plenty of jobs out there, for everyone regardless of age. Data released in the Totaljobs Employment Index (TEI) this month shows that postings on the totaljobs website were up 7% year-on-year (YoY) in September. Comparing Q3 2016 with Q3 last year, the number of available jobs is also up 8%.

We’re currently experiencing a candidate-led market, meaning that those looking for work can be much more selective as they pick and choose their next job. In this situation when it’s difficult to recruit the best talent, successful employers will consider all candidates equally regardless of age. Despite this, our survey shows that age discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious, is rife and that some are overlooking older candidates due to their age.

Employers keen to harness the best talent will seek to strike a balance in their approach that speaks to all ages and levels of experience. Managing those hungry to take their first steps in a new career, and those who have ‘been there and done it’ needs handling carefully. Different age groups may be looking for different management styles, working practices and benefits. Savvy employers know how to harness this and keep everyone happy.

What do older people bring to the workplace? Plenty!


Confidence comes with experience – in both life and work. Facing (and overcoming) challenging situations proves to employees that ‘they can do it’ – knowledge they can draw on when they next find themselves up against a tough work matter. What’s more, confidence is infectious. If you have calm and composed employees in the workplace, those more prone to flustering will learn from their example and feed off a less stressful vibe.


Not all creativity stems from whizz kids in Silicon Valley! Yes, while the likes of Google and Apple have no shortage of young and brainy tech wizards, they also understand the benefit of hiring experienced workers. Technology moves on so quickly that we are all faced with an ever-changing skill set requirement in the workplace. You could say that older workers are more tuned to this than so-called digital natives as they have had to adapt to the fast-paced changes which have happened throughout their career.

Older employees have more life experience to draw creative inspiration from. And creativity is not the preserve of any demographic. In fact, when brainstorming, for example, you’re most likely to get the biggest range of ideas if those in the room are from a diverse range of backgrounds, age groups and experience.


Older employees can serve a valuable mentoring role to younger workers. Often having been through the same experiences, learnt from them, and can impart this wisdom to others. More experienced workers are also likely to have more confidence in handling tricky situations and feel more comfortable taking the lead when it comes to the crunch.

Age isn’t just a number – and nor is it a guarantee. Employers and recruiters who include a broad range of candidates within their recruitment process are much more likely to identify strong potential employees.  Having older workers on-board, with their greater experience and unique insights, can be of benefit to all businesses and create a rich, diverse mix of employees.

Download the October edition of the Totaljobs Employment Index here.

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