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back to article Asking for experience in job ads could land you in hot water

Employers must curb their demands for fixed amounts of experience from job applicants to avoid falling foul of discrimination legislation, an employment law specialist has warned. The caution comes after a secretary won a case against her former employer for dismissing her because she was too young. Catherine Barker, an …

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Anonymous Coward

Absolutely ridiculous

This isn't discrimination, it's wanting the right person for the job. This sort of thing forces people into adopting wishy-washy arse-covering excerises everytime anything needs doing. It's not good for a company, or even the country, if everyone's thinking in these terms.

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Paris Hilton

No it isn't

"it's wanting the right person for the job"

Nope, by using 'years of experience' it's how you ensure that only the person that's been around the same company for years gets the job and not necessarily the right person.

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Stop

@Absolutely ridiculous

Re-reading the story I'm not sure. It says they dismissed her for being too young, not refused to employ her for lack of experience. I think the article is very misleading... Hiring then firing is bad - if she is too young now, why was she too young when they first took her on?

If this was about not hiring someone for a job based on experience then I'd agree wholehartedly (sp?)

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Happy

About time.

For the Anon Cow above, I'd like to point out that if a person of a certain age or experience level is required, then they may employ discriminently. However, if the age or experience is not absolutely needed then the company has to offer the job to 'everyone'.

There are very few engineering firms in this country that are willing to employ someone with less than 3-5 yrs experience. If anyone can tell me how you are meant to get that experience when no one will employ you I'd like to know.

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hmm..

1 - "was dismissed after she was told that she was not mature enough "

2 -"tribunal ruled that Thomas had been discriminated against on grounds of her age."

From what little logic I possess I can see that 1 does not equal 2.

She could have been 60 and too immature for the job, but I suppose that would have been ageist too.

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@ AC

You're wrong in this case. She'd already been hired. The reason she was sacked wasn't that she couldn't do the job but because of a perception by someone or some peoples that she was too young to do the job.

It's a position I can fully sympathise with as I've been at the same end of the stick being turned down for a job (which I'd actually been doing for several years) based on my age. You can imagine how I felt at the age of 26 to be told that I wasn't old enough to be a supervisor (most managers start at 24 when they leave University) and that my new supervisor was going to be the 30 year old person that had joined the company a few months earlier and that I'd trained to do his job.

This sort of discrimination is rife in industry as well as qualification snobbery. A job I had a few years later saw me move from the engineering department into the IT department. Upon hearing that I had no formal qualifications in computing the IT director told me "well you can't be a developer then, we'll find something for you to do". It was the most condescending thing I have ever heard from a manager in my entire life given that at the time the company was using the Manufacturing System that I had actually written for them. Even the lead developer in the IT team had no formal qualifications having been forced to learn most of what he knew on the job. What made matters worse was that while as an engineer I was expected to fulfil several training courses to improve my skills within the IT department training was limited to a select few managers and anyone lower was expected to fund their own training.

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@s

Re-read the article again. They fired her for not being mature enough. That is something that could only become apparent after beng taken on.

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Ash

This will solve a problem that doesn't exist.

When asked for examples of experience in the job, the younger, inexperienced applicants will come up blank.

I don't care about PC policy. If I get to that position, i'll hire the best applicant for the job, regardless of govornment ratios for young, old, disabled, black, autistic, white, one handed, jew, irish,or pink spotted elephants in my staff!

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Is asking for qualifications discrimination as well?

Surely asking for a medical degree also discriminates against 19 year olds.

If school leavers can't apply for the post of MD of major companies could they plead age discrimination?

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IT Angle

Depending on the industry...

I know that in IT, especially with contracts, for the majority you can ignore the number of years experience, or at least halve it and they'd be happy. Half the time they'd be lucky to find someone who's spent that many years on that single item, and some other person might have picked up the same skills in less time not because of age but the role they were in forced them to.

On a side note, think I saw a misprinted advert once asking for 5 years enterprise experience on Vista. like to see who got that job

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IT Angle

Re: About time.

Absolutely right!

No joking but 90% of the adverts I see for "Junior [language here] Programmer" require 3-5 years experience.

Then I see positions for "Senior [language here] Programmer" requiring 3-5 years experience. And even positions like "[language here] project manager" requiring 3+ years experience.

It's bloody rediculous that someone can get a job as a senior programmer with 3 years experience, but might not have enough experience to get a job as a junior programmer!

Did I miss something?

How is someone supposed to get the experience if all the first-step roles require the same level of experience as a senior position?

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Flame

More bubblewrap?

Hired then fired for not being "mature" enough I can see people taking issue with. If Megan wasn't suitable for the job then why employ her in the first place? However opening companies up to being sued because they want someone with a reasonable level of experience to perform a specific function is ridiculous. Why should I hire a Systems Administrator who has never had any IT experience? Would you trust a doctor who never started their medical training? I'm starting to think Rob Grant's Incompetence [http://www.amazon.co.uk/Incompetence-Gollancz-Rob-Grant/dp/0575074191] was actually a frightening glimpse into the future. Why should we be dragged down to the lowest common denominator just because lawyers and governments think natural selection and a preference for the right person for the job is unfair? If you aren't capable of performing your role why the hell should you remain employed.

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Tangenitally relevant

Selecting based on N years of X is a poor technique anyway. Someone can have many years experience in a field and still not be any good.

IME, Windows admins and developers of all stripes fall squarely into this category.

I've been in a position to hire and fire, and I can confidently say that restricting adverts (and criteria given to recruiters, who will do the initial selection) to "Knowledge of X" provides a far more interesting list of candidates.

Apart from anything else, once you have their CVs you can see how long their experience with X is, and when you get them to interview, you can find out if their experience is actually relevant to you or not.

Someone with (say) 5 years of C# working as a web developer may be of no value to me at all if I'm looking for someone to work on a C# DSP application, whereas someone with no commercial C# at all who knocked up a spectral analyser application in their spare time may be just right for the job.

In fact, someone with no C# at all, but who is competent in other languages and has domain knowledge may fit well, and would have been eliminated through a requirement for some number of years working in a particular language, or even knowledge of that particular language.

Maybe this person could convince me that C# isn't actually a good platform to build a DSP app on. If not, I'm sure they can learn C# in a jiffy if they are decently competent. Transferable skills, see ?

Obviously, the less specific you are in your criteria, the more CVs you will have to wade through, and the more candidates you will have to see. But time investment in this phase will pay itself back many fold. Recruitment by box ticking on the other hand, often leads to a mismatch.

(IME, YMMV)

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@ Dzed and Confused

read the article moron it says there are instance where asking for experience is legitimate such as medical experience(i.e. a medical degree) or flight hours logged in a particular aircraft.

but 3+years admin experience is rediculus is it is unlikly that you would learn anything in 2 years that you couldn't learn in 2 months.

as for a company MD the fact a 19 year old would not have experience deligating tasks to several teams teams and oversing £x million pund budgets would probabily discount them from the post .

i.e the article is saying you can't just put must have x number of years experience on a job description as that is discrimnatory it is saying however if experience at a particular task is required this can be written into the job specification.

i work in contaminated land and i regularly see jobs asking for 2+ years experience for junior consultants when any graduate with an earth science degree can do the job perfectly well. That is discriminating against them because of their age they are not old enough to have gained any experience it doesn't mean however that they are unable to do the job

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Not exactly a taxing job is it?

Being the "membership secretary" at the "Eight Member Club". I'm sure she could have coped.

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Stupidity

Either Thomas was capable of doing the job, or she wasn't. If she wasn't capable of doing the job then she should have been fired for *specific* reasons / failings with regards to her duties.

Merely citing 'immaturity' as the reason sounds like, and was treated as, age discrimination, even if this was some sort of blanket cover-all for a number of failings.

In short, the "Eight Member Club" were either bloody stupid or were genuinely discriminatory.

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Pirate

Dog bites man as world yawns

Shock horror

Lawyer advises everyone to consult their lawyers more often or be sued by someone else's lawyers more often.

In an ideal world they would, of course, consult their lawyer and then get sued by someone elses' lawyer thus creating much lawyerly riches for lawyers to share and an ever improving standard of living for lawyers the world over.

Non-lawyers need not apply for a position on the money-go-round.

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Happy

Junior and Senior Developers

Careful - you're discriminating against age there!

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Coat

Minimum Wage Ageist?

OK so given that youre not supposed to discriminate based on age, how come the national minimum wage technically "discriminates" against the young? Shouldnt everyone get the same amount regardless of age?

...dons flame-retardant coat, gets into fireproof taxi.

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@AndyB

"Merely citing 'immaturity' as the reason sounds like, and was treated as, age discrimination, even if this was some sort of blanket cover-all for a number of failings."

Started reading that sentence and was about to comment until I read the last bit. Argued against yourself there, except that the "even if" should've been removed. Surely it's obvious that this was a blanket cover for general behaviour. Looks nothing like age discrimination to me.

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Ed
IT Angle

Min experience follies

Hiring managers at non-IT organizations doing IT hiring _really_ need to reassess their experience requirements before posting jobs.

My favorite ever was while looking for a job after finishing university in 2000. Saw a posting for a junior web programmer requiring "10 years of web development experience." Yes, because there was a web to develop for in 1990. And because Berners-Lee would be out there looking for a junior webmonkey position in 2000. Hahaha!

As for this job, it sounds like they need to be better at documenting failings before firing. "Immaturity" could be a catch all for poor customer service skills, inability to communicate with clients effectively, or all sorts of other things that would be way safer and equally easy to reference in a termination.

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@ minimum wage ageist?

Tell the truth I actually agree with you, often you will find young people doing the exact same job as an older person but for the lower age minimum wage. In those circumstances that wage is discriminatory. However the real reason that there is a disparity between the minimum wages for different ages is to take into account the number of jobs that are done almost solely by younger people. It makes no sense to pay a 16 year kid the same as an 18 year old for doing a paper round. Also you wouldn't hire an 18 year old for some apprenticeships that are geared towards 16 year old school leavers. It is these specific cases where the disparity makes sense. But a 16 year old working on a till in th esupermarket should get the same money as anyone else in that role imo.

Back to the case in point though. Read the story on The Telegraph website, it tells a much different picture. Apparently she was sacked for lying and deceit, but her boss actually admitted that if she was a few years older they would have kept her. The real reason was her age and not her suitability for the job.

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Coat

Clearly the issue was...

...that at 19 she wasn't "mature" enough to suit the club members' WIVES.

(...and why did I first read the name of her ex-employer as the Eight" Members' Club?)

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Alien

Really early adopters

I always have to laugh at job descriptions and stupid requirements for x years experience - starting from when I was a callow trainee programmer back in 1983 when people were asking for 3 years experience IBM system 36's (machine launched 1983) all the way through to one I saw just this morning - 2 years experience maintaining vista and mac osx leopard

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Happy

Another landmark ruling..

In another landmark ruling this week, 37 stone, one-legged, hunchback esmarelda smith was award 2 million pounds by an employment tribunal after a lap dancing club in soho refused to hire her.

The tribunal ruled that the fact she was a big fat ugly cow should have no bearing on her ability to do the job.

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Flame

I hate the template job descriptions

I always found I was either overqualified or under experienced. Now I program for a QUANGO. Grr!

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Pirate

Sounds really suspicious.

What kind of club has only eight members, not mature enough to what? Hmmm, I don't think this is a very good case to base anything on, I think the young woman is better off somewhere else. If you reach my age you learn the smell of dodgy employers and this smells.

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