We work with so many talented creatives at Artisan, many of whom are over 45. This month, we thought it was important to offer tips on how to combat ageism in your hiring efforts. The most insidious thing about ageism is that no one really talks about it. But not talking about it either makes it appear to not exist or pushes it aside as some taboo topic not to be discussed. It is, in fact, “the one -ism that affects us all.” So, let’s talk about it! In this article, we’ll cover methods on how to make your job postings and hiring language completely welcome to all, no matter their age.
First, the facts on Ageism in the Creative Industry
The faster technology moves, the more impervious ageism seems to become in our society. Still, it’s always been there (and media doesn’t help). While we’ve had the Age Discrimination Act since 1975 to protect people of all ages, we’ve seen code words like “experienced” used as the antithesis to “innovation” (as though they were polar opposites!). Coded language is one way job seekers have discriminated against those over 45 and it often goes unchecked. So are filtering out candidates based on the older dates on their resumes. Even the methods used to find talent might be geared toward young people exclusively (more on that in a bit). We want you to consider every angle of your job search and challenge your own personal biases against hiring certain workers at face value.
Tip 1: Change your perception - do some fair vetting and research!
After a group of hiring managers across seven countries were asked about their perception of people in various age brackets, they consistently labeled candidates over 45 as “unfit for the job”. Yet, when we look at the verifiable truth, 87% of those 45+ hires outperform their younger peers. This truth proved to be consistent across all industries, BTW. You have to ask yourself as a recruiter or hiring manager—and be honest—is your perception preventing highly valuable candidates from getting hired? Instead of validating your perception, do your due diligence to vet 45+ candidates the same as you would anyone else applying for this position. Who cares if this is an entry-level job? Investigate why they are applying! What would their experience bring to this job? Hold portfolio review interviews and provide performance-based assessments like paid testing. All the while, look at their drive, their excitement, their wealth of experience, and skill levels instead of appearances. Speaking of skills…
Tip 2: Focus on skill level and methods, not dates of publication
When you receive a new portfolio, are you simply looking at the dates instead of the actual quality of the content? Refocus. Even though the work may be old (in your POV), read through their case studies and give them opportunities to speak on their work. In short, get the whole story—understand how they changed the game for their company in those moments, regardless of the dates attached. Focus on their latest skills, too, and ask about any of their new learnings in their industry. Have them speak on their history as well as their future—ask them what’s next and what they’re most excited about. There’s no denying that seasoned professionals deliver when it comes to industry wisdom, but also remember they’ve gotten this far by staying imaginative and consistently anticipating what’s next. Now, doesn’t that sound like innovation to you?
Tip 3: Diversify your job posting channels and imagery
Where do you post your jobs? If your answer is solely on social media, then you’re probably missing out on plenty of professionals who scan classic job boards or receive recommendations through email. Also, representation matters. Do your advertisements and job postings feature people of all ages and abilities? Does the language in your job descriptions skew too much toward a young crowd? (See our next tip on what we mean!) If you truly want to be inclusive of all ages, these are important biases you’ll need to weed out of your hiring process. If you need more tips on ensuring your job postings are accessible, we have a blog post for that, too!
Tip 4: Cut out ageist language and requirements
Like we mentioned before, ageism is so insidious because we have unconsciously bought into it through stereotypical media representations and societal perceptions. It’s in our language, especially around hiring. What is an ageist requirement? Birthdays or graduation days aren’t really important for the job and can lead to ageist biases. What does ageist language look or sound like? Being too concerned with “whether or not this person fits in our workplace culture” or whether or not this person is “agile” or “savvy” enough for the job are two examples of coded ageist language. These examples are judgments that can appear in both written job descriptions and meetings around the decisions to hire the person in question. Hold yourself and others in the conversation accountable and squash any language based on outdated perceptions of what people over 45 can or can’t do.
The truth is we need multigenerational workplaces if we’re going to see any success in the workplace and as a more compassionate society on the whole. So, while the above are a few tips to keep in mind, we want to encourage you to target a variety of people in your hiring efforts. And, if you need help finding the right people for your particular project, we can help!