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Can you help my mum, please?

Business woman

My mum is unemployed. It’s the first time in many years that she has been on the market. She has an extensive corporate background and has excelled in every role that she has held. My mum is not a job hopper – never has been. Every CEO that she has reported to would back her ability. She is 57.

The above is not true; my mum retired many years ago but this isn’t about her.

This story may be about your colleague's mum, the one you have worked with and sat next to for the last few years. Perhaps this is your best mate’s mum. Hey, it may even be the mum of that guy that serves you coffee every morning, and gee is it good coffee.

This may even be about your mum.

My point is it’s someone’s mum.

In the years that I have been recruiting I have seen that there is a problem with age discrimination. This is not about companies that discriminate, but more about the recruitment sector.

I have met countless men and women who are in their 50s and even some in their early 60s who are looking for work. For most it is difficult to find recruiters who will work with them, but in many cases they still need to work.

Not everyone who works ends up retiring comfortably. Not everyone who works earns hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, has large property portfolios and has amassed large amounts of superannuation to be able to retire comfortably.

Many struggle, but if they want to keep working they face widespread discrimination.

Years ago even my managers would take a wide berth from older applicants and not consider putting them forward to our clients. They were smug about it too .

I recall hearing, “Get a load of this bloke’s CV, he’s 62,” from the mouth of a 20-something year old recruiter who should have known better.

Before I joined the recruitment industry, more than 10 years ago, I had to deal with recruiters trying to assist me in getting a job. I despised most of them, but there was one that I actually liked and he got me into recruitment – if you read this thank you AC.

There are a few different types of recruiters out there, and thankfully I have seen a big shift away from what it was once like: The brash bold inexperienced recruiter who thought their crap didn’t stink. The recruiter making a bucket load of money and treating candidates like a commodity or a product, not giving two hoots about them and just looking for the placement.

Nowadays, there are countless experts in our industry all talking about ‘candidate experience’ but back then this did not exist much, if at all.

Luckily our industry is maturing.

The industry has passed its infancy. It had fun while it was a toddler. It was a bit brash and unruly during the teenager time, started to look at things differently in its twenties and now is starting to show signs of maturity. Thankfully.

As recruiters we have a great responsibility – as a whole, you see, we help people. Our responsibility is to try and give the time of day to every applicant whose CV comes across our desk.

It may be as simple as picking up the phone and acknowledging receipt of their CV, or dropping them a thank you email for applying, even when they are clearly not suitable for the role. It is about acting in a confidential and respectful way when making a direct approach if you are a ‘head-hunter’.

But, even more so, we have an obligation to the older generation, the ones who have helped shape many industries that we work in, the ones who are doing it tough now but in days gone by were excelling.

You see, those in the older generation are the ones who have made it possible for us to fit in and have a place.

We need to be mindful of their circumstances. We need to respect the fact that they may have bigger responsibilities than some of us that they can’t meet, putting pressure on their personal lives.

So when you meet an older candidate, rather than lowering your eyes on the phone or keyboard in front of you, look up and think of what it would be like if, say, you were in their shoes at 50 or older.

If an older version of yourself rang you, would you give them the time of day?

What if you found out your best mate’s mum was struggling to land a job? Would you try and help?

Just remember the next time that you come across an older job seeker who is doing it tough, more than likely they are someone’s dad or mum, more than likely they have kids whom they are supporting.

What would you do if it was your mum or dad who needed a job?


About the Author

Justin Samlal@Justin_Samlal is an executive search and recruitment professional based in Melbourne’s south-east and is also the proud father of two cheeky girls. He suffers from a serious Twitter addiction. Discover how he combines these demanding roles at

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