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Question of the Month – September

What does the phrase “young and dynamic” mean to you?

If you hear it or see it and think that’s it just means someone with a bit of get up and go about them, I’d generally agree in most circumstances.


However, with a HR and recruitment hat on, I see the phrase as something quite concerning.

Inadvertent discrimination is huge in recruiting terms. Adverts asking for men because the job requires lifting suitcases as a concierge… sub text being that of course a mere woman would not be able to lift a heavy case. Adverts specifying a level of physical fitness required. Adverts asking for “young and dynamic” people.

“Young and dynamic” spells discrimination when you look at it in a different light of day. Although it’s often used and meant innocently enough, to a prospective job hunter, it gives an unfavourable impression of you as a prospective employer.

Just as it seems incredible to most enlightened individuals that only a man could do a job lifting suitcases, it also appears strange that only someone who enjoys the benefits of youth could carry out a particular role.

For what reason then would an employer specify the need for youth?

I suspect that there is a level of bias at play which people don’t actually realise or see in themselves. The specification that someone needs to be young in order to do a job can come from all sorts of drivers, generally the perception that the role needs energy and enthusiasm, dynamism, drive.. all those great “go getter” type adjectives. Where people often fall down is in assuming that someone needs to be young in order to bring those criteria to a role.

So, knowing all that, we have to ask what the risk is. After all, if we advertise for young and dynamic, we haven’t hurt anyone, have we?

Firstly, discrimination actually has to have taken place in order for someone to take umbrage and raise such a claim. You’d have to actually reject a candidate’s application for the role before they could say that you had discriminated against them. Think of it this way though – if an older person applies and is rejected, even if the reasons for rejecting them had nothing to do with their age, what’s stopping them claiming that it was ALL to do with their age? And what do you have in your defence that it wasn’t? Especially since you’ve clearly stated in your publicly-placed advertising that you want someone young for the role?

Even if no one comes forward to say they feel discriminated against, think about the perception that wording gives of your business. Every time you advertise for a vacancy, you advertise your business. You say way more about you than you’d ever say when marketing to your customers. You tell someone exactly what it’s like to work with you and if the over-riding impression is that you’re a workplace that’s ok with a bit of discrimination, that’s not going to encourage people to fall over themselves to apply now.

The interesting thing is that if a role truly requires lots of enthusiasm, drive, spark, etc etc – you can say all of THOSE things without raising an eyebrow. What you can’t do is throw “young” into the mix or at least not without the risk of causing yourself an issue.

The Simple Take is: get your job adverts checked BEFORE you place them

Talk to us today about our job advert checking service.


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