Driftwood Group

Age Before Beauty


There’s Bernie Ecclestone, on his RedBull-enhanced Zimmer frame. He’s 84 this year, and wilier than ever. Some say Formula 1 is a dinosaur, but not if you ask Bernie. (He’s worth quite a LOT, by the way).

Then there’s Warren Buffett – the Sage of Omaha – and essentially a household name when it comes to all things investing. He’s 84 this year too, and although he’s working on the succession plan, it is painfully clear if you follow such things, that he ain’t stopping work any time soon.

Rupert Murdock’s also 84, so’s Frank Lowy – if you’re born in 1930/31 it seems the sun never sets on your career….

Nearly 30 years their junior are people like Bill Gates (59), Christine Lagarde (59), and closer to home Glenn Stevens of the RBA (57) and Alan Joyce of Qantas, who’s on his last year in the forties.

These people and many, many more like them are working longer and longer into what was once rather quaintly called RETIREMENT. It’s getting to the point where you never really stop working – just Carry on up the Khyber until to have to lay down in a box.

You know how every year dictionary publishing houses put out a list of all the new words added to the lexicon? The Oxford added TWERK only last June. Well I think it won’t be too long before they announce they have removed the word RETIREMENT.

What’s the point of all this?

Well in this months’ edition of People Management magazine, there’s an article pointing to the distinct bias against older jobseekers. According to the findings of research from Angela Ruskin University School of Economics you’re 3.6 times more likely to be invited to interview as a male jobseeker if you’re under 30. For women it is even worse – under 30’s are 5.3 times more likely to get the interview call-up.

So if more and more people are working longer and longer into their RETIREMENT years, but as you do it becomes harder and harder to find new work if you happen to fall from the tree, so to speak, then where do we go from here?

What happened to Age Before Beauty?

        “O, let us have him, for his silver hairs

        Will purchase us a good opinion

        And buy men’s voices to command our deeds:

        It shall be said, his judgment ruled our hands;

        Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,

        But all be buried in his gravity.”

        JULIUS CAESAR Act 2, Scene 1 (Metellus on an elderly Cicero’s good standing)

It strikes me that some of these older, perhaps, wiser candidates who, having fallen from their previous employ, could be of great benefit to an organization. They may not spend their days Tweeting, Twerking, Texting and Sexting(?!), but rather on the business at hand.

All the usual strictures remain in place – right candidate for the role at hand, good personality fit with company values and culture, referee opinions match experience and CV information, gaps are explained, presentation is polished, salary expectations in line with brief – but you have the chance to gain more than just a new employee.

You might gain an insight into how, before the internet – even before mobile phones – business was done, deals were signed, goals were kicked and companies rose to great heights. And more importantly, how it can still be done.

So discount older candidates at your peril.

Because like it or not, all that Social Media is probably not the only answer…



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Alex Kelly

Alex Kelly

Alex is a Director at Driftwood Group | Occasional Recruiter | Amateur Wordsmith | Career Interventionist