Age doesn’t matter… Or does it?

Having recruited across all levels of functions, I am afraid to see regularly evidences that discriminations still exist on the job market (racial, sexual, physical…). However, the one recruiters face mostly remains age discrimination, for senior professionals as for junior ones.

“TRUE VALUE DOES NOT NEED THE TEST OF TIME”. So goes the saying.

Yet, while browsing articles on Linkedin recently, I came across a comment which made me furious. The article was about the advantages and disadvantages of working with a recruiter and was written by an entrepreneur in his early thirties. The comment came from a 40+ year old Executive Search consultant and went pretty much like this: “It’s tough to have a mature outlook on business when you haven’t passed through puberty. The author should stick to subjects he knows about, like video games and TeleTubbies.”

Beyond my first reaction – feeling ashamed that someone from my industry (suffering enough misperceptions) could write such things – I felt revolted for myself and all the newbies on the job market. What does it mean? Is there an official age as from which everything one says becomes legitimate and true?

I myself faced a few situations when I felt my say was not considered worthy, just because of my age. And probably that on some occasions it was for the best, but isn’t it through practice, discussions and mistakes that we learn and grow mature and wise? A 5 years experienced professional having done many mistakes could well be wiser than a 15 years experienced one having done none.

Unfortunately, I also see many situations reflecting the other way around when younger (but not only) hiring managers are judging senior professionals as not relevant anymore for the job market as if they were outdated, unable to adapt or fit the team’s culture.

Whether discriminated against for being allegedly too young or too old, it is Frustrating BUT (here is the good news) very often Unfounded!

SO HOW TO REACT THE NEXT TIME YOU FACE A SIMILAR SITUATION?

  • Do not take it personally: you should not care about comments coming from people having long expired ideas of the world. They are the ones out of place, not you.
  • Keep calm and don’t be arrogant: Unfortunately, age bias is not always a bias; there might be a reasonable explanation for why your age could be an issue for a specific job.
  • Try to understand and speak about it: There is no doubt that experience requires time and it could be that you are too young to know it all. But experience, knowledge and aptitudes are also a matter of circumstances; if you believe your age is an irrelevant consideration, open the discussion and constructively discuss it with your interlocutor.
  • If the discussion leads nowhere, move on! There is only so much you can do about it. If it were in the context of a recruitment process, maybe you could take legal action but even there, I would wonder if this person/company is worth your time, all the more since discrimination cases are very hard to prove. If you were really the good person then too bad for them because with this attitude they might not make it in the long run anyway.

There might always be some level of discrimination in the non-corporate world however it is a duty of every organization to set clear Policies & Procedures to avoid them and be an equal opportunity employer.

Polyglot Group prides itself to help its partners create better workplaces and put at the core of their strategy their most important asset: people!

 

Source : LinkedIn

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