A new report finds that there are several factors within recruitment that can dissuade an older candidate from applying to or receiving a job, leading to a clear lack of inclusion.

Research carried out by the Centre for Ageing Better found that job adverts and the language used within these can have a large effect on how older workers believe their application will be received.

Although the main findings suggest that the language used in job adverts does not necessarily prohibit older workers from applying, it does affect how successful older candidates believe their applications will be.

Older workers stated that they were put off from roles after reading language which they perceived as appealing to a younger age group.

This could include words such as “innovative” and “adaptable” which some older workers believed would make them less likely to receive an interview or offer. This was also found with the phrase “technologically savvy”, which had a negative impression on older workers.

In addition, the word “innovative” in general caused older workers to question whether they would fit within the organisation.

On the opposite side, when job adverts included benefits such as generous pension contributions and flexible working opportunities, older workers were significantly more likely to apply to these roles.

Offering flexible working was also considered to be an age-inclusive practice, with job roles that mentioned flexible working receiving up to 30 per cent more applications. However, flexible working was only mentioned in 5.5 per cent of job ads – equating to around one in 20.

Additionally, the report found that utilising words which were more associated with older workers did not deter younger workers from applying, showing the use of age-inclusive language could be the key to attracting talent across the board.

Despite this, the research discovered that younger-age stereotypical words were much more commonly used within job advertisements like words such as “innovative” or “dynamic”.

This could be excluding a key demographic within recruitment as, currently, over a third of the UK workforce are over the age of 50.

Overall, noting the lack of confidence some older workers feel when applying for a new role, the report recommended that organisations must pay careful attention to the language used.

In addition, it advised employers to go above and beyond their statutory requirements, by, for example, mentioning benefits such as generous workplace pensions and flexible working in their job advertisements to attract diverse talent.

Finally, the report stated that employers must consider how this one part of the process feeds into a wider system of understanding how and where ageism operates throughout the entire recruitment process.

*This research was taken from the Centre for Ageing Better’s Report ‘Ads for All Ages’ which can be found here. If you want to find out more about older workers and ageism within recruitment, please find an analysis article here.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.