Age Is Just a Number, But It Can Still Lead to Discrimination in the Hiring Process

As much as recruiters try to avoid it, age discrimination is still popping up in the hiring process. Like singer Aaliyah once said, “Age ain’t nothing but a number,” and new survey findings reveal that discrimination is happening at any age.

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Jobscan, a résumé-optimizing tool, recently released new survey findings from over 100 recruiters that reveal just how prevalent age discrimination is in the hiring process. The main finding is that 88% of recruiters feel age discrimination is a problem, and some respondents provided anecdotal evidence for why they feel this way.

It’s Illegal?

“Multiple recruiters told us that they often advocate for older job seekers only to see hiring managers turn them down, while hiring managers cited culture fit, lack of drive, and outdated skillsets as reasons for not hiring older candidates,” says Molly Nevins in a blog post for Jobscan.

What’s even more startling is one recruiter even revealed that “many hiring managers are not even aware that [age discrimination] is illegal.” The survey also uncovered that 87% of recruiters know other talent acquisition professionals who have not hired someone because of his or her age—and 24% of respondents have even admitted to engaging in this practice themselves.

Jobscan’s survey also discovered that over half (57%) of respondents have been instructed by other hiring professionals not to hire a candidate because of his or her age. Before you start blaming the hiring manager for being ageist, many recruiters anecdotally claim that it’s the clients they source for who provide the ageist guidelines.

Who Is Discriminated Against More?

While many recruiters know discrimination is a problem, it isn’t entirely clear which age range—young vs. old—recruiters are discriminating against. The examples mentioned above would have you believe older workers are more discriminated against than younger workers.

Which is true, according to 26% of workers aged 55 and older, but Jobscan’s findings also reveal that 20% of workers aged 18 to 24 believed they’ve experienced age discrimination, as well. While the percentages are low, these shouldn’t exist at all. HR professionals must intervene and enlighten clients and hiring managers on the risks associated with discriminating against workers because of their age.

Here are some helpful resources you can share with your recruiters and hiring professionals to avoid facing a future age discrimination lawsuit: