For our Ageism in the Workplace theme we’ve paired up some employees near the beginning of their careers with more experienced peers and invited them to have a guided conversation about age, youth, experience and work. Their questions were intended to generate conversation not only about ageism, but also the wider themes of perspective, choices and opportunities as experienced by different generations.

Below is fascinating conversation between two of our staff: Linda Gilleard, a Project Manager for Quality and Eliza Woodward-King who  has responsibilities in customer tracking, administration and marketing. Thank you Eliza and Linda for your honesty and participation.

Linda Gilleard and Eliza Woodward-KingEliza: I’m in my early twenties and feel like I’ve now found something that I want to do. You’ve worked your whole career in this sector. What are some of the advantages that come with age?

Linda: Long tenure within a sector or an organisation can mean that older workers have a really good idea of what’s involved in many different tasks. That brings a lot of comfort and support to those around them. Within the careers sector I’ve done every job there is! I’ve known success and failure and experience has taught me that failure is just a learning experience. Experience also gives you a professional track record, credibility in interviews and people who can give you a reference.

Eliza: At the moment I’m aware that I don’t have much of a track record, and that a lack of experience could go against me. People might be less sure of handing over certain tasks to me. I’m actually looking forward to gaining more experience. What else has experience given you?

Linda: Perspective. I wish I’d learned sooner that people don’t deserve respect simply because they’re higher up the ladder than you. They have to earn it. You’re as good as the next person.

Eliza: How has work changed since you started in your career?

Linda: Roles are broader now; people have a wider remit. When I started, hours were more regular and early Friday finishes were common. PCs were introduced within my working lifetime and emails were a big driver in the cultural shift to longer hours. Managing emails is almost a job in itself and many people can’t escape them. An overlooked disparity between older and younger workers is the confidence to work with technology. Gen-Z are true digital natives, whereas when I was at school we couldn’t learn about communications technology: it wasn’t around!

Eliza: At school I spent five years learning computing and we weren’t allowed to hand-write our essays. When it comes to doing anything tech-based that’s new to me I just watch tutorials or Google it and I’d be lost if I couldn’t. When I started working for Adviza during the pandemic, everything was digital.

Linda: Applying for jobs is much more automated now, too.

Eliza: It’s easier to find jobs with Indeed and LinkedIn and Google and most companies advertising vacancies on their websites, but the application process is more competitive. You often have to do all sorts of assessments just to get an interview.

Linda: I agree it is easier to find a role; I’m on LinkedIn and I get jobs pushed at me. But it’s a lot more competitive due to remote working. People can work from anywhere now and that has opened up the available talent pool for many vacancies.

Eliza: Covid has also led to a lot of unemployment and a lot more people looking for roles.

Linda: It has, and a lot of young people are at a disadvantage because employers often ask for more skills and experience than is needed. I’ve seen this situation develop over time. Employers are increasingly reluctant to disclose salaries.

Eliza: The advertised salary range in vacancies often says “up to X amount” when it’s unlikely a candidate will earn the maximum. So although job searching is easier, securing a job is really hard, often because it’s difficult to get an accurate sense of whether a job is really for you.

Linda: I agree.

Eliza: Would you enjoy starting out in your career today, do you think?

Linda: With the experience I’ve gained over the years, yes! I like that there are different opportunities today. Nobody was very ambitious for me when I was young. There was status in getting out and earning money as soon as possible, so I did one year of A-Levels then left education to go into work. I effectively apprenticed in a job, making a speculative application after asking my mum’s friend what she did, and after a lot of training and moving around to gain experience (that’s many years summarised in a sentence!) I eventually became a Chief Executive in a careers service in the West Midlands. I came out of early retirement to work for Adviza. I’ve done many different things but always in the careers sector. I think young people today are more likely to have several different careers over their working life. Do you have any specific ambitions?

Eliza: I’m not sure where I want my career to go in the long term but I’ve gained a sense of what I enjoy. I started out volunteering in a charity shop and then worked at McDonald’s for two years before I joined Adviza as a project tracker. I’ve since been able to try my hand at various roles here and I really enjoy marketing.

Linda: Young people and older people can face barriers because of their age. Have you encountered any?

Eliza: Because I’m young, sometimes my customers might make comments about how they should be in my job and I should be in a shop, or that I’m too young to be able to help them. That affected me at first but now I realise those people are just upset. I’m helping them because they’re unemployed, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. Have you experienced barriers?

Linda: Society can impose attitudes on people and when you’re older, phrases like “getting on a bit” are standard and used casually. Sometimes in the past I’ve felt like my ideas have been ignored because I’m older and less worthy. It’s a case of, “is this ageism, or is it normalised behaviour—or is ageism itself normalised behaviour?” In some walks of life I can be more ignored than I used to be. Not often though, and maybe I’m just less confident than I used to be. Do you think multigenerational workforces are a positive thing?

Eliza: Yes. Young people in their first role are often full of enthusiasm and can be trained and moulded, and I think more established staff can be a really useful guide to them. I wouldn’t want to have to start a role without trusted, more experienced peers around me who know what they’re doing.

Linda: When I started out, even the Principal Careers Adviser I worked with was the youngest in the county! We were all a similar age and grew older together. But since then I’ve seen more multigenerational workforces and believe mixed-age peer groups bring advantages. When you’re surrounded by like-minded people it can create a bit of an echo chamber where all your own assumptions and attitudes are reflected back at you. Some of the best learning comes from managers or peers who aren’t like you at all. You might find that in a diverse team, but it could even be from learning how not to do something from a manager you didn’t like!

Eliza: I’ve already learned some useful lessons from older peers here—for the right reasons! Being surrounded by people my own age at McDonald’s wasn’t always healthy. Here it’s more professional.

Linda: We’re lucky here. There’s a collective energy of people pulling together and wanting the best for everyone. But of course, someone can drag you down regardless of their age! Do you feel listened to? Have you been able to make suggestions that have been heard?

Eliza: Yes, I’ve made suggestions that have helped us to track better, so I’ve been listened to, and we’ve made some changes for the better, including some of the reporting structures.

Linda: That sounds pretty amazing to me. You’re making a difference.

Eliza: What would you do differently if you could start your career again?

Linda: I’d complete my A-Levels and go to university, but otherwise there’s nothing at all that I regret in my career. I went for it, doing something I love.

Eliza: What’s your advice to someone at the beginning of their career?

Linda: Dream big, go for it, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t be afraid of anyone, because nobody is better than you. Be true to yourself, have a thirst for knowledge and pick up what you can from people. Make the most of your time with any employer and be as ambitious as you want to be, whatever that means for you.


Adviza is proud to offer staff a platform to share their views on a wide range of diversity and inclusion topics and acknowledges that these are, as they should be, many and varied. We champion equality and diversity which means all views are welcome.

Our vision is for all young people and adults to make better decisions that help them achieve their full potential. That includes following the path that makes them happy and being the most authentic version of themselves.


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