Study highlights age bias in job adverts

A new report highlights the importance of age-inclusive job adverts and openly advertising that jobs can be done flexibly.

Recruitment: People seated waiting for interviews holding CVs


Only 5.5% of job adverts mention flexible working, according to a new study by the Centre for Ageing Better which highlights the importance of taking out the language used in relation to age bias in job adverts.

The report, Ads for all ages: How age-biased are job adverts in the UK, and what can we do about it?, which looked at the impact of different kinds of language in job adverts, also found that, while most age-stereotypical language didn’t have a strong effect on whether or not people would apply for the job, it did affect whether applicants felt they would be a good fit with the job and the company. Words like ‘innovative’ and ‘adaptable’ had a negative impact on older applicants’ confidence in the success of their application, while the phrase ‘looking for someone who is technologically savvy’ made them feel like they wouldn’t fit well with the company, for example.

The research also found that using language which appealed more broadly to older applicants did not deter younger applicants. In addition, the inclusion of benefits such as generous pension contributions and flexible working opportunities made older workers more likely to apply.

Patrick Thomson, Senior Programme Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Applying for a new job when you’re younger feels like an opportunity, applying for a job when you’re older can feel like a risk. This new research highlights the importance of employers thinking really carefully about the language they use in job adverts. Words and phrases which we commonly associate with younger people can put older jobseekers off applying or make them feel less confident about their chances of success.

“As our previous research has highlighted, ageism in the recruitment process is damaging for both job seekers and employers, meaning businesses are likely to miss out on the skills and experiences older workers can bring.

“This report shows that making the language of job adverts inclusive and attractive to all ages is a win-win, making older workers more likely to apply without deterring younger jobseekers. In particular, advertising flexible working is a big draw for over 50s looking for work, and will help to attract a wide range of candidates.”


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