Facing the future

9 June 2010

Facing the future

This month, a reader asks about a problem many of us will face in the workplace, whether today or in the future. Our Career Consultants offer their tips.

Q Although still employed, I believe that my age (57 years) is against me in terms of seeking new employment. I have sent various recruitment agencies my CV (which excludes my date of birth) for positions that I am well qualified for. In all cases, the agency has contacted me confirming my suitability and at the same time requesting my DoB. When I query why they need to know, they say that it is essential information for their records. I give them the information and then never hear from them again – strange that. I’m suspicious that the DoB information is being used to eliminate me, either by the agency or the recruiter.

A Lynne Crowe, regional manager at Hays Construction, comments:

What is important is that you have the right skills in place, not what your age is. You are right not to put your age on your CV – neither should a recruiter ask for this on the phone or at any stage of the recruitment process. Job applicants are among those individuals covered under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. You are well within your rights to refuse to divulge your age.

A good recruiter should be interested in hearing about your experience and not how old you are. Use the conversation to emphasise your successes and give some additional background to your CV. Talking more about your achievements at length will really give colour to your CV and demonstrate why you are a candidate worth seeing. What skills are needed in the industry and do you have them? Have you done everything you can to highlight these skills in your CV and on your covering letter?

If you are applying for specific roles make sure that you stand out from the crowd. Understand where your strengths are and be confident enough to tell the recruiter why you should be put forward for this role.

If you are positive that there is nothing holding you back but your age, check the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) website for a list of reputable recruiters.

A Rick Lee, group chief human resources officer, Willmott Dixon Holdings, says:

My advice to anyone planning a job search is to explore a number of different avenues at the same time. This should include recruitment agencies and approaching potential employers directly, or indirectly through a personal network. This, surprisingly, is one of the more successful ways of getting a new job.

Identify the organisations you wish to work for and approach them directly rather than, dare I say, through their HR department! Make contact with the person who makes the appointment decision, be it the CEO, managing director or head of a division. This can be by letter, email, phone, or at an event they are attending. Highlight ways in which you could contribute to their business and what difference you would make.

Work with your personal network of contacts. Somebody always knows somebody, who knows somebody. The network can be built up from friends, family, acquaintances, former bosses, colleagues, clients or people you have met on training courses. Your contacts can help you identify and make contact with people who have the power to make an appointment.

Once contact is established, ask for a meeting. Some people will be happy to meet you on the strength of a recommendation and won’t ask to see your CV beforehand, but if they do, send it without your date of birth. Your end game is to secure a face-to-face meeting with someone in the company you wish to work for, who will see beyond your CV to your maturity and experience.

John Lees has written a couple of books with chapters on the direct approach which you might find helpful. Good luck!


Put it to the panel

Do you have a question you’d like to ask? Post comments or questions – under a pseudonym if you prefer – at the bottom of this page.

Next month, Rok advises a reader looking for his next career move in Scotland.

And if you’re ready to move on to your next career challenge, look at our new website,


Five ways to… raise the bar on sustainability

01 Prioritise resource efficiency

On the £33m development of the Bridge Learning Campus in Bristol, using resources efficiently was key to meeting ambitious sustainability targets. Main contractor Skanska worked with WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) to identify the best ways to tackle waste, which included ensuring waste was reduced through design and the implementation of best practice resource efficiency measures on site. The result was cost savings, net of implementation costs, of £600 000 – equivalent to approximately 1.8% of construction value.

02 Use take-back schemes

Easy to implement, take-back schemes can deliver real environmental and economic benefits. At the Bridge Learning Campus, any ceiling tile off-cuts were segregated on site, collected by the supplier, and remanufactured into new ceiling tiles. Similarly, used timber pallets were segregated on site and local firm Woodwise collected the pallets, which were then recycled into biomass boiler grade wood pellets. Closing the loop, Woodwise supplies the campus with wood pellets for its biomass boilers.

03 Engage the community

Skanska invited Scout Enterprises, a charity affiliated to the local Scout Club, to take any fixtures and fittings from the previous school building before demolition work began. As well as reducing demolition arisings and disposal costs, this benefited the charity – the school kitchens, for example, were stripped out and fitted to Scout huts in Wales.

04 Use innovative paint disposal

A trade wash system was introduced by Skanska where painters were provided with a contained system to wash down brushes, rollers and their hands. The filtration tank not only encouraged trades to ensure legal compliance, it also cut water wastage and disposal costs.

05 Use online resources

Skanska used the WRAP Net Waste Tool at to identify the best opportunities to increase levels of recycled content. As a result, the project achieved 21% recycled content by value of all materials used.


For further information on using resources efficiently and reducing waste to landfill, visit

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