Sorry, you’re too old

Doug Golightly

Another email lobs into the inbox.

“Thanks so much for taking the time to apply for the position of …

“In reviewing your application, we’d like to acknowledge the experience you’ve gained, though unfortunately on this occasion, we won’t be moving forward with your application for this role.

“While we couldn’t get things to work out this time around, our relationship definitely isn’t over and we’d like to keep your details on our files.”

I’ve had 78 of those emails. I expect to go past 80 and slowly work my way to a well-fought, if rather pointless, century in the next few weeks.

While the rejection emails always try to convey some sense of positivity after the “we don’t want you” line the irony is that the majority of employers don’t want a follow up as it’s an inconvenience. It seems it’s just too difficult to do that.

Since raising my bat at 50 I’ve decided to contact every one of the outfits I’ve applied for roles at. Only a few have come back to me (which is pretty ordinary in itself) and of those that have, apart from a suggestion that a tweak of the CV wouldn’t hurt, I’ve been told “Sorry you’re too old.”

Of course, these calls are always made “off-the-record” and in “total confidence” with the “I shouldn’t be telling you this but …” explanation offered as some sort of softening up preamble to the hit that’s coming.

For a spritely bloke (and I do give myself a rap here) of just sixty, it’s difficult to take especially when you know you would excel and enhance in the roles you’ve been applying for.

Perhaps, though, it’s probably better to face the indisputable fact that if you’re part of the “no hair or grey hair” brigade it’s going to be tough nowadays. That’s especially relevant if, like me, you haven’t got a degree.

“They’ll use the no degree excuse but it’s just code for you being too old,” a former colleague told me.

“It’s demeaning but there are plenty of us mature types having the same battle,” he said ruefully.

A professional consultant confided that many employers are wary of taking on “more mature” workers.

“It’s especially relevant for the 55-60 plus group. Many organisations see these people as set in their ways, technically adverse to new technology, unwilling to look at new ideas and, let’s face it, they’re not that far away from getting the gold card and being looked after by the Government.”

When I replied that it’s a cynical way of looking at ageing workers given many of us are technically adept, have a great deal of maturity (finally), wisdom and life experience he told me: “That may be so but it’s not the reality I’m hearing about. So you’d better get used to it.”

Is that the case? Do we need to face facts and “get used to it”?

I reckon, despite the challenges, despite the knock-backs, we have to battle on. There’s the honest appraisal that “there’s always someone worse off” and while that can come across as patronising and condescending sometimes it’s all you’ve got to hang on to.

And seriously for someone who didn’t make many centuries in senior reserve cricket getting to a hundred could be an interesting experience.

  • Doug Golightly is a media professional with more than 30 years of experience in online platforms, radio, television and newspapers. He’s a sports fanatic and considers himself an amateur environmentalist.
  • Doug writes at “Straight from the Dougout“. Republished with permission.
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