4 Examples Of Age Discrimination In Recruitment & How To Avoid It
There are legal requirements in place to prevent age discrimination. The Equality Act protects job seekers and employees from experiencing direct and indirect discrimination. However, age-related inequality is still a prevalent issue in hiring and recruitment.
To prevent ageism, incidents need to be recognised before they occur. To ensure a hiring strategy is inclusive to all, regardless of their age.
But do recruiters really have a built-in bias when it comes to a candidate’s age? To eliminate this we have suggested 4 ways in which subtle age discrimination can be recognised and then removed from a recruitment process.
Length of experience
“The candidate must have 10+ years worth of experience in a similar position.”
Yes, whilst it’s important to have the right experience for a position, specifying numbers can be subject to bias. Consequently, requesting a high number of years of experience can encourage older applicants to apply.
So instead, when composing a job advert, it is far more effective to state the desired skill set required for the role and specific experience the candidate must have in order to be successful. Rather than a time-based approach that may discourage younger job applicants from applying for a time specified role.
“We’re looking for a recent graduate, fresh out of university looking for an exciting new role.”
On the other hand, associating a time-scale with a preference for a graduate candidate can imply the employer is searching for a younger employee.
Using the words ‘fresh out of university’ a ‘recent graduate’ or even a ‘newly graduated’ candidate are all terms associated with an age-related bias. When the job role requires a degree, it’s important to understand that candidates could have obtained the relevant qualifications years before applying for the position. Whilst, it’s perfectly acceptable to request a graduate, incorporating age-related language and a time scale will open up a job advert to bias.
“We’re a fun, energetic and lively office looking for someone who will fit well within our active company.”
“We are seeking an experienced candidate, who will fit well within our mature team.”
What’s wrong with these snippets? Both are excluding different age groups. The fun and lively office could be perceived as a young work environment and discourage those of a certain age to apply. Alternatively, the second job extract states they are a mature team and therefore looking for a mature co-worker. This information is not relevant to the potential job role and whilst company culture is important it is not age-dependent. Look for personality traits that reflect the ideal job seekers, skills, work ethic and potential within the new role.
Single route of application
Can applicants only apply via, LinkedIn or Facebook? Perhaps the job description is only accessible via online careers pages? Either way, limiting the route to an application will only lessen the likelihood a wide range of candidates will apply.
Considering, the average millennial spends the most time on social media (about 2 hours and 38 minutes a day). These candidates may feel more inclined to apply for a job they see when scrolling through their social media feeds. However, the age groups who are less active online will not discover the same job opportunities. Therefore, a role posted exclusively to social media won’t guarantee a large volume of applications from a number of diverse age groups. Ensure inclusivity and advertise a job vacancy through more than one method.
In more extreme cases, Facebook has recently been accused of providing advertising tools to screen out older applicants. The social network came under fire when employers were advertising targeted job vacancies towards a specific network based on age, location and interests. Although employers have since revisited their targeted ads, this method to hire resulted in age discrimination and unlawful hiring.
Age discrimination is disappointingly still occurring within talent acquisition. But awareness and action are key to tackling the issue and promoting a diverse hiring strategy.