The ageless job application?

Jun 24 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A radical new job application form that excludes any mention of age, education or career history has been created in a bid to tackle endemic ageism in recruitment.

The ‘age neutral’ form has been drawn up by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA) with the help of solicitors Bartlett Scott Edgar.

EFA says that is has been developed to help employers avoid falling foul of new anti-ageism laws that will come into force in the UK in October 2006 as a result of the EU Employment Directive.

The legislation will make it unlawful for employers to discriminate on grounds of age and will rank ageism alongside other forms of discrimination, such as sex or race, giving employees the right to bring legal cases against their employers.

The changes will also have a major impact on recruitment advertising, with the use of specified periods of experience in your job adverts under threat, and employers using terms such as “young” or “energetic” risking potential legal action.

EFA warned last year that UK employers could be exposing themselves to a staggering £73 billion worth of claims if they are not fully prepared, with

Sam Mercer, director of the EFA, said that age is often one of the first questions a potential candidate is required to answer when applying for a job.

“We all know age is used to build a mental picture of a person – and old habits die hard.

"But simply removing the date of birth from an application form achieves very little, as our inclination is to check out the education and career history - not to establish whether someone is able to do a job, but to do some quick mental arithmetic."

The new form’s answer to this is simple, if drastic. It excludes not just the applicant’s date of birth, but also all other chronological information, including career history and education.

Mercer said that while this would remove a large part of the information that recruiters traditionally use to assess a candidate, it was the only way of ensuring compliance with the 2006 legislation.

“We believe that this reliance on a detailed history instead of an analysis of an individual’s competency, not only encourages age discrimination but also poor recruitment decisions,” she said

But mindful of the accusation that this is all a step too far, EFA acknowledge that more information is necessary if the process is to work in reality. Hiring decisions must include some yardsticks against which to gauge loyalty, commitment, progression and unemployment.

Therefore although employers would still have access to all relevant personal information (on a separate form), the manager responsible for sifting candidates would not get to see it.

By basing their decisions solely on the age-neutral form, EFA says that selections would be based solely on the basis of demonstrated competency, not age.

A sample of the new form is available as a PDF here, and EFA is inviting comments to [email protected].