Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England recently complained about early retirees, accusing them of “reducing the productive capacity of the economy” and thereby driving up prices, which, in turn, have to be combatted by interest rate rises. But if my experience is any indication, many over-50s are out of employment not out of choice but because, despite a widely-signalled commitment to ‘diversity’, many employers don’t seem to want to hear from people above a certain age.
I am in my mid-50s and over the past few years I have been unemployed despite earnestly trying to find work the same as, or similar to what I had been doing before in the financial markets. I was fortunate that my wife was working and I had put funds away for a rainy day so I didn’t need to claim any benefits, which may be the same for many people in their 50s.
Recently I checked to see if my National Insurance contributions were up to date and I have to thank Martin Lewis for suggesting I do this as, despite paying in since I started work at the age of 17, there was a shortfall which would have reduced my state pension. Martin pointed out that it would be possible to claim credits even if you were not registered as unemployed as long as you could show you were available for work and had been attempting to find work.
I set about the task of getting all the information together to make my case. By the time I finished I was surprised at just how many different positions I had applied for (or at least those that I had records of).
I had applied for 110 different positions. Eighty-eight (80%) of those applications were rejected without interview despite many of them being an exact job match or only a slight variation but with the same skill set.
One in particular had stuck in my mind. I will not mention its name, just that it was an American banking giant that was looking to fill a London based position that exactly matched my experience. It has the following on its website:
[The company] and its affiliates consider for employment and hire qualified candidates without regard to race, religious creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, protected veteran or disability status or any factor prohibited by law, and as such affirms in policy and practice to support and promote the concept of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, in accordance with all applicable federal, state, provincial and municipal laws. The company also prohibits discrimination on other bases such as medical condition, marital status or any other factor that is irrelevant to the performance of our teammates.
Two-and-a-half hours after sending my electronic application I received a message which said: “Thank you for your recent application to the above position. After careful consideration we are sorry to inform you that we will not be progressing with your application.”
Due to the ridiculously short period of time that my application had been evaluated in, I decided to write an actual letter to the head of human resources pointing out how I was surprised to receive an almost immediate rejection email and I didn’t know how the algorithm used to filter potential candidates is configured but in light of my experience, the fact that I was rejected so quickly suggested it was not working properly.
I asked for the opportunity to discuss the role in person but never received a reply.
Maybe I’m just too old.
I have since found employment, but for others perhaps the decision to retire is not through choice but more to do with diversity, equity and inclusion not applying to people in their 50s.
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