There’s nothing worse than being made to feel old before your time,
and job ads stating ’over-30s need not apply’, as prevalent in marketing
as any other industry, can induce that sinking feeling faster than
But a survey from Barkers Human Resources Advertising, analysing more
than 8000 display ads in the national quality press, shows that only 6%
of the ads stipulated an age limit. This compares with almost double
that number two years ago.
Back in the 80s, age limits would typically feature on between 30% and
42% of recruitment ads. So, although things are clearly improving for
mature candidates, and companies do avoid being explicit in their age
requirements, there is disturbing evidence they are adopting more
Nick Holker, research and planning director at Barkers, says that the
survey also reviewed the use of language to suggest a favoured age
Typical phrases include: ’Don’t read this unless you want to join a
young team’; ’This is probably your second job’; and ’outstanding career
opportunity for a young, high-calibre individual hungry to succeed’.
’Most of these phrases send out a fairly clear message which will
present the greatest challenge of interpretation for any potential
legislation,’ says Holker.
And with the latest statistics suggesting that 40% of Britain’s work
force will be aged 45 and over by the year 2000, coupled with the
decline in availability of school leavers, the focus will have to shift
from putting off the mature applicants to attracting them.
’In the ten years to 1997, the number of men aged 40 to 64 and women
aged 40 to 59 classed as ’economically inactive’ rose by 79,000 to 4.2
million,’ says Richard Worsley, director of the Carnegie Third Age
Programme, which champions the role of older people. ’There is little
evidence of over-40s sharing the benefits of the biggest boom since the