Smash the stereo­types when look­ing for work, Me­lanie Burgess re­ports

The Courier-Mail - Career One - - Front Page -

M ORE than a third of Aus­tralians cite ageism as a key bar­rier in their ca­reer but ex­perts are re­mind­ing work­ers bar­ri­ers can be bro­ken.

Man­pow­erGroup So­lu­tions polled 4500 global job seek­ers to find 37 per cent of Aus­tralians agreed pre­con­cep­tions about age held them back, com­pared to 34 per cent of re­spon­dents in the UK and 26 per cent in the US.

Sa­rina Russo Job Ac­cess chief ex­ec­u­tive Dianne Fletcher says neg­a­tive stereo­types are not based on facts or re­search but of­ten one bad ex­pe­ri­ence with one per­son.

She says stereo­types for older work­ers in­clude that they are over-qual­i­fied, won’t work well with younger man­age­ment, will have is­sues adapt­ing to tech- nol­ogy, or won’t stay in the job for long be­cause they won’t be sat­is­fied.

Mean­while, young work­ers are not im­mune, as those straight out of school or uni­ver­sity are as­sumed to not have the right skills, al­ways be look­ing to move on to the next big thing, be un­re­li­able, lack ap­pro­pri­ate phone man­ner, or be un­will­ing to buckle down and take in­struc­tion.

Fletcher says older work­ers want­ing to show they can work with all age groups should high­light ex­am­ples of them be­ing a team player, flex­i­ble and adap­tive. “Have some­thing in your re­sume about be­ing open to new ideas and feed­back and those sorts of things,” she says.

“In your interview, it’s about say­ing work en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture (is more im­por­tant than) who the su­per­vi­sor is.”

For young job­seek­ers, try­ing to es- cape the stereo­type of be­ing in­ex­pe­ri­enced, Fletcher recommends high­light­ing skills rather than roles.

“You might be 19 and not have a huge em­ploy­ment his­tory but might have done a few things through school that are em­ploy­ment-like, such as vol­un­teer­ing for school, af­ter-hours ac­tiv­i­ties or work­ing as a ref­eree,” she says.

“If you are a ref­eree for a sport, you are de­vel­op­ing and demon­strat­ing your skills to man­age an en­vi­ron­ment, man­age par­ents, deal with con­flict, make de­ci­sions and be able to ex­plain those de­ci­sions, rep­re­sent the school or club with your pre­sen­ta­tion, and an­a­lyse in­for­ma­tion to draw a con­clu­sion and make a judg­ment call.”

Sue Howse, gen­eral man­ager for Man­pow­erGroup So­lu­tions Aus­tralia and NZ, says em­ploy­ers who em­brace candidates across a broad age spec- trum reap the re­wards. To make it work, she en­cour­ages em­ploy­ers to be un­der­stand­ing of in­ter­gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences and ac­com­mo­date a range of work pref­er­ences.

King­fisher Re­cruit­ment se­nior con­sul­tant Vic­to­ria Su­sans says some com­pa­nies and re­cruit­ment agen­cies are work­ing around ageism in the hir­ing process by us­ing “blind CVs”.

“This means age, gen­der, name and other per­sonal info are left off the CV to en­sure there’s no con­scious or un­con­scious bias made when fol­low­ing the re­cruit­ment process,” she says.

“Age is ir­rel­e­vant when you com­pare it to skillset, per­son­al­ity, am­bi­tion, mo­ti­va­tions and how the per­son will fit in with the ex­ist­ing cul­ture.

“No mat­ter your age you can be young at heart, level-headed or wise be­yond your years.”

GET­TING ON WITH IT: Per­sonal care at­ten­dant Sue Fraser and debt col­lec­tor April McNa­mara. Pic­ture: STU­ART MIL­LI­GAN

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