This is a great article published in the July 2013 issue of UK magazine “The Oldie” is republished in full with permission. We were asked last week about age discrimination in the workplace, and this is a pertinent commentary on how us Oldsters can sometimes be treated. This is part one of the article.
‘Do………… you mind if I call you Peter?’
Not really I said, although my name is David. It was the start of my first interview for Jobseekers Allowance at the Job Centre and it would slide downhill rapidly as the session went on.
‘We don’t have a category for your exact job so I’ll put you down as a sales rep.”
Telling her I had absolutely no knowledge of that work did not deter her in the slightest as we forged on.
‘We have to select a category from the drop-down menu that the computer gives us you see, but it will be a start to get us going, Peter.’
I was in the unhappy position of looking for work at the age of 59. It was not looking good.
In April I’d gone on a week’s holiday, taking in the delights of Woolacombe with Sheila, my wife, and returned home to a telephone message from my boss telling me to go into the office as he had decided to call it a day – workwise – and shut up shop.
‘I know you’ve been here fifteen years,’ he said when I got there, ‘but its the credit crunch, David. Our accountant said it was best to wrap it up at the year end on April 5th as it was much tidier. The insolvency agency will deal with everything you need to know… oh, and I will need your company car and mobile as I have to return them today.’
So after twenty minutes in the office I found myself at the bus stop with a mounting feeling of panic. It was to grow over the next few days.
Don’t look a gift horse
After the trauma of losing my job I set about getting another one. All it would take was a quick email to my old contacts in the business and I would be back in the saddle in no time.
I got just one reply. It was ‘Sorry can’t help.’ Had I really been that much of a bastard? No. There just weren’t any jobs. OK, so I would search the local job scene and bingo, I would soon get sorted out.
I found a national retailer who had not one job, not two jobs, but three vacancies in the area. It was the only company advertising but hey, I couldn’t be too choosy. I got an interview and was offered a job there and then.
How lucky was that!
I was the only one at the induction course to get 100 per cent and I went back to the branch to begin.
It didn’t take long for reality to kick in. I was the only one with the experience and knowledge to do the bulk of the workload that came in relentlessly, day in and day out. My first day started as it carried on, with no breaks at all yet still finishing the day with a backlog of work for the next day. I met all the targets, but that only made it worse as the more I got done, the more I was expected to do. I had to work weekends, and the forty-hour week became a joke.
Staff morale was terrible – but whenever management made an appearance you had to appear positive and happy otherwise there were consequences.
I stuck it for as long as I could, meeting all the targets and getting good appraisals, but it was killing me.
So here I was looking for work again – but this time it was worse, because I’d left a job voluntarily and the sympathy was not there. I was now in a worse hole than before. …
…Part 2 …. ”Career Counselling” ………. and how a 59 year old began to realise that getting work at this age is not as easy as it might seem.
The Oldie magazine was launched in the UK in 1992, and recently issued its 300th edition. Despite being called The Oldie, the magazine often stresses that it is not an age-specific publication, and does seem to have many readers in their twenties, thirties and forties