We hear all about it on the news. When an older person loses their job, it’s harder for them to find something new. That’s difficult to reconcile with the increasing number of companies that strive for inclusion and diversity in the workforce. These good intentions don’t seem to match reality. That’s a shame because being older doesn’t mean people don’t have much to offer. On the contrary, older people are more experienced, can provide a different perspective, have better interpersonal skills, and are often natural mentors. So, what needs to change for older people to have a better chance of finding a new job?
The age bias
When companies rarely hire older people, chances are that they have an age bias during the recruitment process. This happens long before the selection of candidates or the interview. It’s the job descriptions that bear the first evidence of this practice. Here, the age bias is reflected in the words recruiters use in their job descriptions. We’re not saying that this is done on purpose. Chances are that recruiters don’t realize that they are biased. They might unintentionally use words and sentences that discourage older people from applying without even knowing it.
Words that are a sign of age bias
Age bias in job descriptions doesn’t lead to equality in the workforce, which is something companies strive for when they want to reach their goals for inclusion and diversity. Recruiters might not mean to do this, but research shows that they often use words in their job descriptions that are a sign of age bias. Think of words like young, energetic, flexible, creative and fun-loving. Or more specifically, they might mention the physical abilities required of an applicant, such as lifting a specific amount of weight, or the use of certain computer programs, something that’s harder for some older people. Or perhaps they describe the fun, party atmosphere within the company, or mention that it’s a company where the average age of staff is below thirty. These are all words and phrases that disincentive older people from applying.
Use words that encourage older people to apply
Just as there are words that keep older people from applying, there are also words that actually encourage older people to apply. Think of words like committed, experienced, leadership skills, mentorship abilities and a strong work ethic. The augmented writing platform we offer at Textmetrics can help you with this. We use AI algorithms to help you write job descriptions using words that appeal to people of all ages, which is an important step toward more equality in your organization by persuading older people to apply as well.