Marketing professionals add a touch of spin to their age

15-04-2004

Research from totaljobs.com, the online recruiter, suggests that one in three employers either suspected or discovered that a job candidate was not telling the truth about how old he or she was on their CV. PR and marketing professionals were, according to employers, the most likely to lie about their age.

The survey also found - not unexpectedly - that less than a third of those across the labour market who did lie about their age claimed they were older than they really were. The bulk claimed they were younger.

Equal rights campaigners are likely to respond to the research by arguing it shows the need for legislation banning businesses from deciding whether to hire or fire because of age.

Patricia Hewitt, trade and industry secretary, is due this year to publish the UK version of a European Union directive outlawing age discrimination.

But it is understood the proposals are being delayed by wrangling between ministers over the age at which businesses should have the right to retire staff automatically.

Ann Mealor, of the Institute of Public Relations, acknowledged that PR was "seen as a young industry". But she argued there was an increasing number of older workers, since staff increasingly regarded PR as a long-term "career choice".

But Samantha Mercer, of Employers Forum on Age, was less positive. She described PR and marketing as "two sectors which are hugely ageist". Job adverts for the industry were much more likely to include coded ageist adjectives when describing the desirable candidate, such as the words "dynamic", "energetic" and even "funky".

Does it make sense for candidates to lie? Fifteen per cent of employers across the labour market admitted that age contributed to decisions when hiring. But lying appears to be a high-risk strategy. Most employers who thought a candidate was lying claimed they found out the truth later.

By David Turner
Financial Times

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