I have been in recruitment for 18 years now, I have grown a business through the financial crisis, the credit crunch, launched into (and retreated from) multiple counties, partnered with clients in war zones and managed to grow businesses through Brexit.
I can honestly say the last month has been the hardest I have faced in my career…. I think it has been for a lot of people.
After the business bullet that was Brexit, most entrepreneurs thought that the worst was done – we had Brexit done and what else could go wrong… there was no forecasting for this.
I have already seen news articles that signal a turn point in the media “have we over-reacted”, “is this the new normal?”, “how do we plan for moving forward?”
As we move from the panic phase, to opportunism and realignment, companies start to plan the future.
The clever have shed their under-performing sites, people, assets and soon will start to plan for growth, acquisitions and tailoring their offer to the new world.
The unique part about this recovery is about the numbers of people and the levels of business that this has affected in a very short space of time. Companies will look to hire fresh, available, inexpensive talent who are keen to multi-task across multiple areas.
Technology is going to play a large part; many roles will not be replaced, and many corporate structures will change forever.
If I am going to be very honest, as a recruiter, I am not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of age; I am not allowed to ask about age, year of birth or anything related. It introduces bias into the interview process, and this is very unfair.
It is the case that clients request “recent MBA graduates”, “high achieving”, “up-and-coming” who can bring fresh thinking and connect them to a younger, millennial market which if far fickler and trend driven.
These people run alongside long-standing employees, the stable, long-service characters, people who have seen the new faces come and go and are still left standing.
Very much the backbones of the business who know where the bodies are buried and retain the culture of the business during times of change – we all know these people.
When the recovery stage begins, the (vast) majority of younger workers will find it reasonably easy to find new jobs. Even if in the short term there is a disparity with wage levels, these will grow again as the market normalises and candidate supply and demand are realigned.
I fear this will leave the older age group in a precarious situation. Often, more mature candidates (55-65 years old) are responsible for a larger extended family, elderly parents, partner, large mortgages etc, they can be less flexible around salary level.
There may also be a stigma around potential sickness and longevity, the current crisis is very much centred around age – the young seem largely oblivious to the dangers and the more mature are becoming increasingly isolated.
If this group have invested heavily in pensions / long term plans related to the stock market, then they are likely to have had a double or treble hit in the last month.
I have long championed, diversity (specifically for LGBT and ethnic communities) and I think this should, rightly have a place when new teams are recruited.
All of that being said, I believe recruiting the best person for the job regardless of other factors, we are running businesses, not charities. It is very important that employers look to recruit balanced teams with the right, skilled individuals to do the job in hand. I believe the next large issue for the next few years will be around age. We will all have to work to fight this bias, and old dogs might have to learn a few new tricks.
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Date Published: 26th April 2020