Goodbye, Quick-Witted and Ambitious

International recruiting agency Robert Walters has allegedly issued a blanket ban on using certain words or phrases in job ads following the United Kingdom’s passage of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations to remedy age discrimination.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the company wants to avoid the following: energetic, youthful, vibrant, quick-learner, self-starter, high-flyer, gravitas, newly qualified, soon-to-be-qualified, dynamic, experienced, ambitious, hungry, fit, energetic, and recent graduate.

Effective October 1, one of the biggest changes under the new law is that employers will not be able to impose compulsory retirement before 65. Currently, many employers state that 60 is their standard retirement age, according to the BBC.

Yet other elements to the law have left recruiters puzzled, particularly over how to revise job postings. Some recruiters wonder whether it is acceptable to include references to modern degrees such as media studies or information technology. Others question whether it is now illegal in an advertisement to specify the minimum number of years’ experience an applicant should have.

Liz Parsons, principal consultant of The Spencer Group in Reading, United Kingdom, says she does not find it harder to write job specs.

“It?s early days of course, but I am finding that I am approaching a very candidate-driven market with a lot more flexibility, which can only benefit my clients. I think HR candidates can usually get a feel for how much experience they should have by the salary level. If anything I am being more creative with my wording,” she says.

As she understands it, she says it is not illegal to list the number of years’ experience preferred, but guidelines advise not to stipulate it because it could be interpreted as discriminatory to younger candidates.

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“Possibly a belt-and-braces approach to a legislation that is riddle with grey areas,” she notes. ?

Parsons adds that the new laws are not limitations, and in fact, put recruiters in a stronger position when recommending candidates who may have previously been rejected due to their age.

“A client can’t ask me how old a candidate is and I won’t tell them even if they do. I always interview face-to-face to screen candidates on ability and culture fit. This way, I can open my clients’ minds and get around their pre-conceptions; I think it’s a win-win. Candidates get more options, clients have access to a wider pool of candidates without quality suffering, and I will hopefully make more placements,” she says.

Finally, in other news related to the new U.K. legislation, the insurance company Alan & Thomas allegedly has banned company-wide birthday cards, for fear that joking or “gag” comments could offend an employee.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.


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