I am 45 years old. In fact, I’m nearer to 50 then 40. It’s never been an issue for me personally, but I’m telling you this because it’s really relevant to something interesting that happened this week.
(Also, how scary is that photo of me above?!)
Some of you may know that I am a freelance writer/come social media manager, and I’m currently between contracts, such is the nature of this type of work. So over the last month I have been proactive in my search for work, applying for jobs, even going for interviews in London, but unfortunately nothing came to fruition.
I started to question why I wasn’t getting the interviews I was going to, or at least getting a second interview. I have good and varied experience in the industry, but understand that perhaps that experience hasn’t been senior enough for some of the roles I have gone for. At each trendy Shoreditch agency I visited, I looked around and noted the age of everyone, for no other reason than I was curious. But then I started to wonder, when people meet me, do they just see my age? Or am I imagining something that isn’t there.
Anyway, the seed of doubt was sown, and I saw a man my age mention something similar on LinkedIn this week, and so when another recruitment agency got in touch with me to see if I was available for work, I thought I would do a bit more research into the client and the demographic before I replied – always a good idea to save time and to ensure you know what you’re getting into. This particular product was created by two 22-year-olds, and the target audience is that age range too. No biggie. I noted the language used on social media, who the product’s competitors were … in other words, I did my research before I spoke to the recruitment people.
I thought this time round I would be upfront and open about what I had found and who I am. I told them my age (it’s on my CV after all, it’s not a secret), told them that I hoped it wouldn’t be an issue considering who the client was, and that I felt I had a lot of experience and knowledge to offer. Now bearing in mind they needed somebody urgently to cover sick leave for a month, and they approached me in the first instance after seeing my LinkedIn CV, I thought I was in with a good chance of at least getting an interview. However, after pointing out my age, the agent said she had a meeting with a client that day and she appreciated my honesty and she’d get back to me.
I never heard from her again.
Not even to say they had found someone, or “Thanks for being honest and yes, I don’t think you’re a great fit for this client.” But nothing. Now that’s just what recruitment consultants can be like – they’re your best friend when they want something, and if you don’t fulfil their needs, they ignore you. In fact, a bit like some of the men I’ve dated! But I do think that highlighting my age sorted the wheat from the chaff on this occasion and me calling her out saved everyone a lot of time and, in my case, money for travelling up to London.
But you see, I just don’t understand why, in this day and age, age is such a big deal. Whether that’s at work, or on the dating scene, you get to a certain age and become invisible. Isn’t that incredibly sad? Just think of all the life experience that they’re missing out on that could prove so useful in the work environment. Being able to develop and nurture relationships, think on your toes, stay calm in a crisis … you get what I mean. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying younger people can’t offer those things, but these life skills are things I’ve learnt as I’ve got older and I really believe I’m a much more rounded and capable person now than I ever was.
Now I might just not have been right for that job, but the fact is, I didn’t have a chance to even prove myself because once I mentioned my age, that was it for me.
My Mum died aged 60, just on the brink of retirement, and about to start a new chapter in her life, and so for me I want to live life to the full. I don’t want to feel held back by others’ preconceptions of who I am, based on a number. Meet me, talk to me and judge me if you will, based on WHO I am not how OLD I am.
Everything happens for a reason and something good is just around the corner – watch this space.