Curious Observations Regarding Job Postings

If job seekers carefully read between the lines, they might detect subtle hints of ageism when examining job postings and 'help wanted' advertisements. The intended purpose of this article is to further explore examples of these types of job postings.


Curious Observations Regarding Job Postings

The employment market seemed to have changed for the worse soon after the financial meltdown of 2008. Ever since then, I have noticed that many job postings and 'help wanted' ads have changed insidiously by utilizing a different tone and making implicit demands of potential applicants.

To be perfectly blunt, the wording used in many of today's 'help wanted' ads sometimes carries hints of thinly disguised ageism. Although the corporations and human resources personnel who create the job postings are not being explicit about their demands due to forced compliance with equal opportunity employment laws, the phraseology that they use can tell the reader an entire story if one carefully reads between the lines. Keep reading for some examples of buzz words and phrases that give hints.

"Young home health agency seeks vibrant, energetic talent!"

The writer of the job posting is not directly indicating his or her desire, but he or she is secretly hoping that the catchy phrase attracts a younger group of applicants. This type of 'help wanted' ad is based on the horrible stereotype that older nurses and healthcare workers lack energy and tend to be not as motivated or vibrant when compared to their younger colleagues.

"We're seeking a fun-loving staff!"

Judging by the choice of words, the person who wrote the job posting is still using that horrid stereotype as a feeble attempt to secretly attract younger applicants. Again, they have concluded that older candidates are not as energetic, vibrant, or fun-loving as their more youthful counterparts.

"2 to 3 years of experience required!" "3 to 5 years of experience a must!"

Many companies that make these types of experiential demands are looking for something very specific. The person who wrote the 'help wanted' ad is not looking for a new graduate, because they would have openly advertised that no experience was necessary. In addition, companies who use this wording are not seeking very experienced (a.k.a. older) applicants, either. Think about it. We seldom see job postings that require 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years of experience. However, requests for '2 to 3 years of experience' or '3 to 5 years of experience' are as common as weeds in an overgrown field.

Companies that use this phrase truly are looking for candidates who have 3 to 5 years of experience. From their perspective, the average college-educated professional who has amassed 3 to 5 years of experience in a certain field is probably going to be in his or her mid 20s to early 30s if this happens to be the applicant's very first career. Unfortunately, mid 20s to early 30s tends to be the desired recruitment age range for many workplaces that are looking to hire. A handful of hiring managers might be disappointed if the 56-year-old second career nurse who has 3 to 5 years of nursing experience applies for the job because he/she is far older than the age range they desired when they posted the job opening.

However, light exists at the end of the tunnel. Many companies avoid these borderline ageist job postings altogether. Some corporations even hire a certain number of 'older' applicants on purpose. For example, I worked for a Fortune 500 company for three years, and all of the occupational health nurses appeared to be well over the age of 50. In addition, one of the human resources managers revealed that they look to hire 'older' employees to avoid potential litigation.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN, CRRN is a longtime physical rehabilitation nurse who has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a Registered Nurse.

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991 Posts

So true Commuter- I know in my job searching- if i see an add with the "vibrant, fun loving phrases in it" I avoid them. These add only make us older job hunters feel bad about ourselves and eventually do a job on our self confidence. I wonder if that is not part of workforce America's plan to keep older job applicants out of the job market.

It's interesting that HR person shared that thought- of hiring older applicants to avoid potential law suits. I have suspected that for some time. I also have theories about what they do with us soon after we are hired- I think we are marked for doom the minute we accept the position. The wheels go into motion on how to get rid of us and the active living process plays it self out as soon as we come in the door.

No employee shows that much lack of promise that soon into the orientation process or it would have been seen at the interview and they would not have been hired.

I don't think that true a Dr Jeckle and Mr/Mrs Hyde exisis with out a serious mental illness history- i don't think they let them out on the streets. I think there is some very seriously detrimental crazy making going on with today's HR dept and employers. To the point of one needing to be seriously afraid of them.

How it has gotton this far is beyond me. I think this is where things go when people are too afraid to speak up and speak out against it. Silence never solves anything. poeple also have to re-establish their own sense of right and wrong. it's not always about ME ME ME. Eventually that "ME" get caught up in the group and become effected/included and goes down also. Speaking up and speaking out- protects the ME, ME,ME- tomorrow it may be YOU YOU YOU


147 Posts

So this leaves me wondering if I'm too old to be starting out pursing a career in nursing. I have my pre reqs done but don't plan to start school till I work as a CNA for a couple of years because I just plain can't afford school right now. However I'm 30 and probably won't be a nurse till I'm 35. Will I be considered too old to be a new hire and look out of place applying for new grad jobs?

CapeCodMermaid, RN

6,090 Posts

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience.

I might be considered an older job hunter if I were looking. However, despite my age, I am still vibrant and fun loving! No one can make you feel bad about yourself except yourself.

CrufflerJJ, RN

1 Article; 1,023 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.
So this leaves me wondering if I'm too old to be starting out pursing a career in nursing. I have my pre reqs done but don't plan to start school till I work as a CNA for a couple of years because I just plain can't afford school right now. However I'm 30 and probably won't be a nurse till I'm 35. Will I be considered too old to be a new hire and look out of place applying for new grad jobs?

You're not too old at all! I graduated from nursing school and started working at the age of 48.

Go for it.


123 Posts

I think you might be looking too far into some of those. Especially 3 - 5 years experience. I would have thought that one would all come down to training. Training someone is expensive.


1 Article; 2,188 Posts

Specializes in Home Care.

I was 47 when I started working as an LPN. My experience so far is that my age is an advantage. Then again, where I am living LPNs are in demand.


2 Articles; 1,406 Posts

Specializes in nursing education.

The wording you describe is exactly the same as the job ads from the mid-90's when I was first looking, and anytime I have looked for a job. It seems to me there has been no change, so I have to disagree on that point.

Specializes in Corrections, neurology, dialysis. Has 15 years experience.

I think you're reading way too much into this. I graduated from nursing school when I was 46 and went right to work. You can be energetic and fun-loving at any age, and you can be the person with a giant stick up your behind when you're 21. I think as long as you are neatly groomed, presentable, teachable and have a positive attitude, age isn't an issue.


8 Posts

Love to hear all the positives of being a mature grad - if all goes to schedule, yes, nursing will be my second career and I will be 51, looking for a job. I am definitely high energy, love people, and am sooo excited to be back into the work force after stopping my first career after 12 years to be home full time for 13 years (tendinitis sidelined me from court reporting). I feel so far with schooling that life wisdom and experience has been a bonus and was hopeful this "bonus" would continue into the healthcare field. Please keep the encouraging comments - they are, well, encouraging! :)


182 Posts

Specializes in critical care, Med-Surg. Has 14 years experience.

Funny, at my ripe old age of early late forties, my cover letter states " Dedicated, energetic, outgoing RN..."

It is true, and I have had LOTS of interviews/job offers. Three consecutive twelve hr shifts are easy-peasy. (well, a little tired third day, but definitely doable.)

It is beyond doable if it's your goal and are relatively healthy.


905 Posts

So blatent discrimination based on age is not just acceptable but commendable?