Having spent most of my life overseas, in 2006 I decided to give up open spaces and clean air and head back to Hong Kong’s concrete jungle. This was where I would forge an internationally successful banking career. After all, Hong Kong was where it was all happening. Being a gateway to China the opportunities were endless, right?
Well, yes and no. I had no issues getting interviews but I quickly found that my “years of experience” were a sticking point. In my first interview for a junior position, the first thing the interviewer did was add up my years on the job.
He then solemnly said: “You have x years of experience, which means we will consider you for a particular level, with a particular monthly salary.”
Somewhat surprised, I asked whether he would like to hear about my responsibilities in my previous roles. He replied: “Sure, go ahead, but we have clear guidelines on years of experience.”
To cut a long story short, the firm’s offer was significantly lower than I expected, so I politely declined. A few more of these interviews followed and I started to question whether I was aiming too high, but I held firm and finally managed to find a job in line with my expectations.
Fast forward to 2011
I am now in a mid-level role and I am looking to change employers, but it seems things haven't changed much in the job market. Recruiters often comment that while my skills are similar to what they want, my experience is still an issue. I'm too "green" – they are looking for someone a little "more mature".
Don't get me wrong, all the recruiters I've met have been great people – polite, respectful and genuinely trying to help. Yet I can't help but feel that they are stereotyping the whole "years of experience" issue. A blanket policy against younger candidates rules out people who potentially would have been a great fit for the job.
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