Age…is the magic number (or just good genes?!)

The end of the year generally brings about a certain amount of navel gazing. The review of the year just gone, the striking conversations or experiences that have stayed with you, the things that went brilliantly and those that didn’t…. I wrote the blog below a few months ago and sat on it, wondering whether I wanted to put my feeling ‘out there’. I’ve decided ‘yes’!


I was recently part of a conversation where an experienced and knowledgeable HR professional who I’d never met before, was emphatic about not engaging a consultant like myself, as I didn’t have x number of years under my belt. At that moment, I got it, or thought I did. His job was to sell experience. His clients saw experience and a consultant’s back-story as value. I’ve reflected on this a lot since. Probably more than I care to disclose.


My reflections took me back to the good old (well, not so old) Equality Act 2010, and in particular, the guidance and good practice around recruitment, and focus on the best person to do the job. Now that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to have experience – there are many professions where it’s absolutely necessary, but we’re talking about specifying actual numbers of years here. Those legal eagles out there will know that this in itself requires objective justification etc etc…  What I passionately believe in is that the focus should shift to what someone can bring. Their skills and actual experience, not the number of years under their belt. Does someone with 15 or 20 years necessarily have more rounded skills and experience than someone with 11 years for example? Maybe. Maybe not. What about their life before their current profession? What value can that bring to an organisation?  Don’t even get me started on sector specific prejudices… That’s another blog.


I’m then drawn to a recent conversation I had at a social gathering with one of my clients. It was a ‘guess the age’ type of thing. When it came to me, I got guesses between 6 and 10 years younger than I am. It’s always been the same, and whilst extremely flattering (and as I get older I cling onto it as much as possible!!), what role might this play around credibility and perceived experience I wonder? How will this impact on how I’m viewed by potential clients and even people I meet? At a recent christmas party I was told by someone that when they met me, they wondered how someone younger than them could be in the position I was in, guiding them on what they needed to be doing as a manager. “I thought ‘what does she know?'”.woman-silhouette-1381346418vdW  I’m 7 years older than him.


So what?  Well. I’ll keep slapping on the moisturiser every day but I might also start paying a little more attention to the topic of personal branding – in sales terms, my USP. There are things I, and everyone else, can do to take control of their life.  I consciously do this all the time, but in 2016,  perhaps that personal branding piece should be a little higher on the agenda for me.  If you google ‘personal branding’  you’ll get a raft of ‘top tips’ and ‘how to’, but instead of the cookbook method, I like some of the principles set out here. My age, my appearance, they don’t matter. I’m a blank silhouette who can bring something to organisations. ‘Stand for something meaningful and the rest will fall into place’.

Going Solo

It’s a scary thing going out there on your own and not having a clear idea about how you’re going to get work. But sometimes you just have to have enough belief in yourself that you can do it, that it’s the right thing for you.

After becoming self employed in July 2014 I was lucky enough to get a big project that took up the best part of a year, but (as it does), this has come to an end, and I’m now in the very real position of having to forge things on my own. Welcome then, to my new website! *waves pom poms* I’m so excited to be launching this and being able to support businesses to do great people stuff!

One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the past few years is that I really need to keep up with the trends, the new ideas, the ways in which my profession can help to future proof HR and businesses to adapt to the changing world of work . It’s been a challenge in some ways, to throw out the chintz and see that there is a better way, not necessarily for all businesses, but for a lot of them. Thankfully, I haven’t had to change my thinking on all things. Take Neil Morrison’s recent blog about simple ways to make recruitment better. These things are a basic courtesy, and something that I’ve been bleating on about in previous roles to managers, team members and basically anyone who will listen! It all comes down to treating people as people and having some regard for their feelings, and the way in which they’ll view your company. That’s not something to be taken lightly. A friend of mine has recently been at the rough end of poor recruiters, both recruitment agencies and large well known household names. Is it really that difficult to send an automated email or return a phone call….?

I’ll be sharing my musings and learning on a periodic basis, and hopefully it might be of interest. I’ll throw in some of the employment law stuff when required too. If you want to hear more on a regular basis, follow me on twitter or get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!