While more employers are recognising the benefits of a multigenerational workforce, many still don’t have strategies in place to attract, recruit, and retain older workers – meaning they could be missing out on top talent.
Research from the Centre for Ageing Better (CFAB) found that more than one-third of people in their 50s and 60s feel disadvantaged when applying for jobs; while a further study by the Bureau of Economic Research saw that age-stereotypical language used in job adverts deterred applicants aged 40+ from applying.
With an ageing population in the UK and over one-third of the workforce now being over 50 (ONS), it’s crucial that employers make recruitment processes more accessible to this demographic – which starts with creating an age-inclusive job description.
Below, we’ve pulled together five tips to help you get started.
1. Focus on skills needed, rather than years of experience
Many job advertisements ask to hear from candidates who have ‘X years experience’ working in a particular role or industry. However, this can create a bias towards certain age groups and doesn’t necessarily attract the most talented candidates.
Older workers often have years of transferable skills and experience that can be valuable in various roles – yet may feel put off by the fact that they don’t meet 100% of the criteria set out in the person specification.
Therefore, employers should focus job ads on the skills needed for the role, rather than years of experience. Doing so will benefit younger candidates too who may not be old enough to have the years of experience being asked for, but do have the skills needed to do the job well.
2. Avoid biased language
Being thoughtful about the choice of language used in job adverts can help older workers feel more confident about their chances of success – making them more likely to apply.
In their research, CFAB found that there were certain words and phrases used in job adverts that made older workers feel that they’d be less suited to the role or company. These include ‘recent graduate’, ‘innovative’, ‘adaptable’ and ‘tech savvy’, as, while anyone of any age can carry these traits, they tend to have younger connotations.
A solution to this could be to put more emphasis on the specific skills required for the role, such as ‘programming skills’, rather than using age-stereotypical words like ‘tech savvy’.
It can also help to use more neutral terms in the person specification (which have been shown not to deter younger candidates but to attract older candidates too), such as ‘knowledgeable’, ‘loyal’, and ‘dependable’.
3. Use inclusive multigenerational imagery
The types of images used in association with job advertisements (perhaps on the recruitment page of your website or when posting roles on social media) can have a significant impact on who applies.
For the first time, companies may have people from five different generations working side by side, which should be reflected in the images chosen. Those that only showcase young people may make older workers feel like they wouldn’t belong.
4. Consider whether employee benefits appeal to age groups
Including employee benefits on job adverts says a lot about what your organisation does to value its staff – but it’s important to consider which generations these perks appeal to.
For example, something that we’ve been told time and again by our members, who are aged 50+, is how important flexible working hours are to them. This is often because it enables people to make time for other responsibilities, such as caring for an elderly parent, looking after grandchildren, or finding a better work-life balance.
Though, despite this, a CFAB study found that just 5.5% of job adverts mention flexible working, meaning that employers are missing out on opportunities to recruit talent from this demographic.
5. Emphasise your organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion
As well as taking time to implement the steps above, employers can also work on their inclusion and diversity policies, and make sure these are clearly displayed for job candidates to see.
Your website and job advert should clearly state that the company provides equal opportunities to all candidates regardless of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, or any other protected characteristic.
Doing so will help to reassure candidates of your company’s dedication to fair and unbiased hiring practices.
A final thought…
It’s important for employers to be mindful of how they’re presenting job opportunities and to make sure that the language and images used are inclusive of candidates of all age groups.
This is not only an important step towards quashing ageism in recruitment but will also allow organisations to hire from a much wider pool of talent.
What steps has your organisation taken to make job adverts more age-inclusive? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.