When I first came into recruitment, Oasis and Blur were fighting the battle of Brit-Pop.
Mobile phones were BIG. Not as in popular but as in size and girth. I had an Ericsson phone that also doubled as a cosh should a fight break out.
The world has changed quite a bit since then. Particularly in recruitment where a lot has changed. In my first job in recruitment, I didn’t have a computer on my desk until I had been with the company for nearly six months and since then we’ve been through a lot. CRM, social media, the cloud, Skype and obviously LinkedIn. For me though the thing that has changed the most in that time is the candidates themselves.
As a young lad starting out in IT sales recruitment a lot of the people, I initially worked with at the senior end of their careers were borne of the 80’s and acted like it. Aggressive, acerbic, hard drinking, hard closing, hard smoking vindaloo eating tough guys from a different universe.
Many of them looked KNACKERED. Years of client “entertainment” (in the days when it was allowed) and life in their cars had taken their toll, and I was instructed under no circumstances to engage with any candidate over the age of about 47 to 48. They were deemed simply “unplaceable”. No client wanted to pay a fat recruitment fee for a candidate of that age, and in a competitive market like the one I started in (does anyone remember Y2K?), there was always another recruiter who would come up with the goods.
I’m glad to say things have changed. Not least because now in my early 40’s I’m fast approaching the age of some of those talented people I probably overlooked in my youth!!!!
As we got nearer to 2015 I undertook a detailed statistical analysis of the sort of candidates that we place to find that the range is widening. “back in the day” the range typically went from 28 to 45, and now it’s gone from 24 to 60. In fact, we have a highly significant cluster of senior-level high fee value placements in the 50 plus bracket.
1. I think (hope and pray) that the culture of sales has changed since I was a lad. I think there is less time spent in pubs and bars with clients “entertaining” them and so salespeople are wearing a little better.
2. The greying economy means that we have more people working for longer and employers are culturally comfortable recruiting older heads into positions that were previously quite horribly deemed fit only for the “young thrusters”.
3. The way customers buy has really changed. We now have a generation of CIO’s who can no longer be bamboozled by a salesman with some sexy kit/vapourware and a good close. The buyers are in fact in possession of 100% perfect information about the solutions being offered as a result of the abundance of information online hence the buyer wants to deal with a salesperson who can bring commercial acumen, genuine advice and value-add to the table while transacting the deal.
So it’s good news for the more mature candidates but not completely.
You see bad salespeople are bad sales people no matter what their age. And good salespeople are good salespeople no matter what their age.
During interviews one of the questions our consultants are trained to ask is “what challenges do you envisage you might have getting your next position?” often the more mature candidate will say “age”. That isn’t the case. I repeat that isn’t the case. The only issue is how you come across, and the quality of your skill set and track record. The real issue is whether as a candidate you have “sharpened the saw” maintained and improved skill and have a decent track record that dictates future success.