Is it Simply About Ageism?

In this article I’ll introduce an existing employment case around ageism and provide some useful tips and references to previous articles that will assist you to overcome obstacles – no matter what your age.

Read about ‘ageism’ here.

(Click on the blue text to gain further insights)

A 62-year-old job seeker who is accusing a New Zealand energy firm of age discrimination has won a legal battle to view the CVs of the people who beat him to the job. (NZ Herald 3rd March 2014)

Read the New Zealand Herald article here.

I read this article and it got me thinking about the ‘more experienced’ (older) candidate.   Is it as simple as ageism? Can ‘older’ applicants overcome ageism? And if so, how?

In this particular instance the candidate believes that they’ve been discriminated against through a bias towards younger applicants rather than his years of experience.  The company denies this.  The employment tribunal has weighed in with some rulings.

Now, Mr Waters, of Timaru, has alleged that, in terms of section 22 of the Human rights Act 1993, he was discriminated against by reason of his age.”

“Alpine Energy denies the allegations that age or employment status was relevant to its considerations for the engineering officer job.”

“The tribunal ruled that all relevant documents should be available to Mr Waters, including the successful applicants’ CVs, application, employment history, listed qualifications, and experience.”

NZ Herald, 3rd March 2014

This is an interesting case:

  1. Alpine Energy has destroyed the documentation
  2. We know age stereotyping exists.  Has it existed in this case and, if so – can it be proven?
  3. The applicant was previously an employee of the company.  How much of his previous record was used in the selection process?
  4. The interview selection process is more than simply a review of CV’s.  ‘Potential’, ‘Messaging’, ‘Value Proposition’, ‘Recency’, ‘Credibility’ –  are just a few.
  5. What could this applicant have done differently that might have changed the outcome?

Read about stereotyping here.

Now, this candidate may have a good case – I’m not saying he hasn’t.  However, I will use this article to highlight some areas for discussion.

It’s not just about age or the years of experience you’ve had.  I have little doubt that ‘ageism’ exists.  But here’s the thing.  It’s not just with the employer.  Some of my clients have done a great job of sewing the seed of ‘ageism!  It’s a two-way street.  Whether you’re 32, 62 or 72, this does not entitle you to a role over someone else just because you have more years under your belt.  What matters most is what you are bringing to the table that is relevant to the prospective employer and that your experience actually adds more value than your competition?

Nail every step by communicating a clear value proposition

Nail every step by communicating a clear value proposition

A common theme amongst job applicants is their inability to a) appropriately differentiate themselves and, b) successfully communicate a clear value proposition during the entire process.  Once they get those nailed, my evidence shows they are able to navigate a more effective path at each step of the process and consequently win more opportunities – no-matter what their ‘age’ is.  So, no matter what your demographic, experience or background – if you’re not directly addressing the ‘hot buttons’ of the hiring manager – you aren’t going to get the interview, let alone be selected for the role.  When you do win the right to interview – make it count!

Read about addressing ‘hot buttons’ and winning the right to interview here

Read about making your interview count here

Lose the sense of entitlement: Seriously – just because you have more years of experience does not win the right to an interview let alone entitle you to the role.  The sense of entitlement it seems does not only exist in gen X and Y.  So don’t fall into this trap.  How well you articulate the ‘benefits’ and application of those years of experience to address the requirements of the hiring manager will go a long way towards getting you the interview and overcoming potential barriers caused by ‘ageism’.

Your profile counts: Are you on LinkedIn, and if so is your profile complete.  93% of recruiters look at LinkedIn to qualify you in or out.  Read more here.  In this instance I would regard the candidates LinkedIn profile is incomplete.  Search for it yourself (click here to find the name in the NZH article) and see what you think.  Based on the likelihood that a recruiter may use LinkedIn to screen in or out – do you think this candidates LinkedIn profile would help, hinder or have no impact on his application for the role?

Click here to find out about who’s looking at your LinkedIn profile.

Position yourself: So, if you are applying for a role and you believe that you may be discriminated against because of age – then make sure you position yourself for relevant experience and the benefits you will deliver to the business through applying your key learnings.

Communicate a positive attitude right from the start: The right attitude and the benefits you will deliver through that and your value propositions will be obvious.  However, just as obvious will be the chip you carry on your shoulder.  Get rid of it.

Visit for more helpful tips on winning interviews

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If you require help in securing your next role and overcoming the ageism barriers get in touch.


Contact: Phone: +64 21 666 807, +64 9 5222802 e-mail: Craig McAlpine's Linked In profile: MISSION Working with Job Search Candidates to build their go-to-market strategy, develop powerful marketing collateral such as their CV, LinkedIn profile and social media presence, and ultimately to secure a new role that is not only rewarding but also assists them on their career journey. EXPERTISE Career Coaching - LinkedIn Training - LinkedIn Optimisation - Personal Branding - Job Hunt: Go to Market Strategy and Collateral - CV design and preparation - Interview skills INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE - Professional Services - Information Technology - Banking and Finance - Recruitment

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Posted in Applying For a Role, Interview Skills, Recruitment

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