Inspired by another article from Campaign – who to their credit are taking on Ageism onboard – here are a few more thoughts from us. Campaign April 2018
Recently I was approached by a head-hunter. He saw my LinkedIn profile and said I would be perfect fit for a role he was recruiting for. And after an initial chat I agreed to send my CV over. I definitely had the experience for the role. I then decided to take the bull by the horns and faced the ageism issue head on. I was honest about my age, told him I had encountered some levels of discrimination due to my age. On my behalf it was ‘a get this in first’ tactic. I was reassured there was no issue with my age.
He then found one slight problem with my experience and honed in on that – my lack of retail experience – Bollocks!! ( I have worked on one of the biggest retailers in Europe). I don’t expect to hear from him again….
Am I giving up too easily? Maybe. But this was not my dream job. The money was good but the company he was recruiting for hasn’t got the best rep. I think I will save my energy for another fight.
It is a plight shared with several of my peers. There are so many super-talented 50+ people who are in roles where they are over-qualified, under-paid and under-used. Or simply not employed. A close friend is one of the best copywriters we have ever had the pleasure of working with. He is not a gob-shite, doesn’t do the big ‘I am’ – he is very modest about his talent. He tended to let his art director take credit for their campaigns. And between them they had a bulging awards cabinet. (We will come to the relevance of creative awards in another blog. There is so much to say about that topic!)
Due to appalling management and unfortunate circumstance, our friend (Pete) found himself redundant – he was 53. But that’s ok – he is a creative – he can go freelance. A shy and modest man he is not really cut out for freelance. Not being able to get a permanent role he was thrust into the ‘gig economy’ and left to his own devices.
Not everyone is cut out to freelance. Freelancing is bloody hard. Don’t work – no pay. Having to build up contacts, doing the ring or email around to punt for work. Having talentless people critiquing your portfolio, having to be nice to people who don’t know their arses from their elbows (been there!). You get a booking then you get cancelled last minute having already turned another client down. You go into new offices, new people, taking a brief from an account manager you have never worked with before. Having to ‘get’ the brief straightaway and delivering results in one day because that is all they have booked you for. Then you don’t get paid for 3 months, sometimes never. Having to chase up invoices with faceless accounts departments, – false promises ‘the cheque is in the post’ lies. Yes freelance is bloody hard.
After years of freelancing, short term contracts, someone saw what a superb creative brain Pete is and hired him full-time. It is not brilliantly paid, but that doesn’t matter to Pete. He is enjoying work again. He may not be producing award winning campaigns, but his pleasure comes with mentoring his young team around him and they are benefiting enormously from his wisdom, patience, knowledge and talent. And well done to that agency for seeing through the wrinkles and grey hair and seeing the brilliant asset they have hired.
Pete is like a new man – he may no longer be treading the carpet at the creative awards ceremonies, picking up armfuls of plastic plaques. He has something much better than that. He has got himself back.