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Age discrimination in recruitment

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2023 | Employment Litigation

One of the less highlighted areas of discrimination relates to ageism in recruitment. While it is often less intentional than racial or sexual discrimination, it is still a real problem for those who experience it.

Close your eyes and conjure up an image of your ideal employee for a particular post. What have you imagined? Have you come up with an image of a set of skills laid out on a CV? Or do you have a picture of a person in your head? You’ve probably imagined a person, albeit one that has the qualities you are seeking. 

You need to take great care of what you do with your image

Many companies fall foul of age discrimination laws because they let too much of the image they have seep into the words they use in their recruitment ad. 

Imagine a tech company where most employees are in their 20s and the bosses are in their 30s. Their ideal hire would probably be someone like themselves, so they might use phrases like fun-loving, digital native, background in social media, or even marketing ninja. They are simply translating the image they have in their head into words, but in the process, they are discouraging older applicants. Even mentioning certain technology can be off putting. 

Do you really need to write that someone should be au fait with Slack in a job description? Most capable people can quickly learn to use things when needed, but, as each generation tends to adopt certain technologies an older person might never have had the need to use Slack before. That does not mean they cannot pick it up, but it might put them off applying in the first place because it subtly tells them they don’t meet the criteria.

Age discrimination is not always obvious so you may want help to learn more about your legal rights and obligations.