Ageism at work: ‘You can almost see the cogs turning in recruiters’ heads’

Workingwise.co.uk continues to track cases of ageism in the recruitment process. Here one woman tells her difficulty finding a job over the last two years.

Recruitment: People seated waiting for interviews holding CVs

 

Workingwise.co.uk has long had a focus on combating ageism in employment. At the end of last year, we ran a survey for National Older Workers Week which found that 55% said they had encountered ageism in the recruitment process. We continue to hear accounts of the impact ageism has on individuals, similar to the one below.

Unconscious ageism in the recruitment process

Caroline Fox* was made redundant from her HR job in an IT transformation company in late 2020. From then until early 2022 she was actively seeking a new position and says she was shocked at the unconscious ageism she encountered in the recruitment process.

Caroline is 53 and has previously run a transport business with her ex-husband and her own small beauty and holistic therapy business. Following her divorce, in 2012, she began working for the IT company, initially on a part-time basis doing administrative and finance work. As the business expanded, her role became full time and in her last four years until 2020 she focussed on creating a separate HR division in the fast-growing company.

During the recruitment process, she says that it is only when her interviewers have been the same age as her that she has been offered a job. She gets shortlisted due to her CV, but when she is in an interview she feels that ageism takes over. “You can almost see the cogs turning in their heads. In their heads I believe they think that, as I’m a mature person, I’m not worth investing in,” she says. Several times in the feedback from interviews she has been told that she didn’t have enough experience.

Caroline has been looking for part-time roles that can be worked remotely and has now secured a remote part-time position for 18 hours a week. If she hadn’t have got it she says she would have given up and set up another business. Indeed she still has plans to run an HR/PA/book-keeping consultancy as well as to do additional work as a virtual assistant.

Pension worries

She took the jobs so that she could make additional contributions to her pension as she is worried what will happen when she reaches state pension age. It was only in 2010 when going through her divorce from her first husband that she says she discovered that he had stopped her private pension payments without telling her as well as consolidating several other pensions which he then cashed in.

Although she left the business in 2010, she retained shares through the divorce process. As a minority shareholder, Caroline, who remarried in 2014, did get a payout when the business was sold in 2018 and she has invested that so that it can top up her other pension contributions.

*Not her real name.



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