Article by Ceri Wheeldon

ageism or poor cv to blame for not getting job


I have had several instances in the past few weeks of people contacting me to say that they had been unable to find employment due to their age. They stressed how many CV’s they had submitted without receiving any responses or being invited for any interviews. In fact in all cases the volume of CV’s sent out was emphasised – in some cases in excess of 100 and even in excess of 250!

Could it be that age isn’t the issue here, but the actual CV that is being submitted that is the issue.

In each case they had sent out one standard CV – not tailored to each role they applied  for, and in the case of some of the CV’s I was sent to ‘take a look at’, they were so vague that nobody reading them would have any idea what they were able to offer in terms of skills or experience – they were so generic they highlighted no marketable expertise at all.

I have been approached by many  women in the Fab after Fifty community who have found their dream jobs in their 50s and 60s – so success in finding a job you love is possible!

I personally find it so frustrating when I see it happen?  There is so much information out there about how to put together a CV and the importance of tailoring your CV to highlight the most relevant skills for each and every role you apply. When you meet somebody in person you only have one chance to make a first good impression. When your CV arrives in somebody’s inbox the same principle applies. Look at your CV critically in the context of the role you are applying for and the company you are applying to. What first impression does it create?

Is age being blamed when there are other factors contributing to the failure to get that job.

It is very easy to blame ‘age’ when in fact there could be other factors to take into account in terms of failure to be invited for interviews. Ageism does exist in the recruitment process – but not in respect to every vacancy  in every company. Make sure that your CV has the best chance of getting that interview when applying for roles with companies that demonstrate no age bias.

As a job seeker you have to maximise your potential of success at every stage of the recruitment process.

Before you even start to put your CV together you must understand which of your skills are marketable and have a value to potential employers. You must also identify any gaps in your skill set that may be a barrier to securing that interview and take steps to address this.

A good starting point would be working something like the exercises in the careers module of the MidLife MOT programme – where assessing your skills and marketability is broken down through a series of very straightforward exercises. You can then use as the basis for a) putting together your skills and experience matrix for including in tailored CVS – and b) working to address any skills gaps to improve your marketability.

Sending out a less than impressive non-tailored CV is a lost opportunity. Sending out 100 or more has created a mountain of less than favourable impressions.

I advise individuals to identify at least 3 job vacancies for roles they believe they can do  before they start putting their CV together. Look at the skills and experience required and the key words used to describe the role. Does the language you use in your CV reflect the terms used in the vacancy descriptions?

Invest time up front before putting together your CV

Most CVs once received are held in a database and ‘searched’ against , much as we conduct searches on google all the time. Does your CV submitted contain the words and phrases that a potential employer would search against to fill the specific vacancy that you would wish to be considered for?

This is why it is so imperative to really invest time in understanding your skillset and also tailoring each and every CV. Better to have ten real opportunities than one hundred missed ones.

Don’t assume that age is the barrier until you have analysed each step of your job search. Start with the basics.  The first step is to truly understand your skills, marketability and value.