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How you format a document gives away your age and Unum’s take on the ageless workplace

by on October 15, 2014

Here’s one especially for my co-blogger Rebecca!  We are frequently reporting on ‘top tips’ advice for older job applicants and here is another one from the Business Insider.  However this is the first one that has had me screaming ‘noooooo’ at the screen.  Why?  Because Number 4 on the list of five is as follows:

4. Double spacing after periods (fullstops)

“I am going to go out a limb and declare that putting two spaces after a period is obsolete,” Miller explains. “It is how most of us were taught to type on a typewriter. Therefore, most of us who do this (I have taught myself to stop putting two spaces after a period and it was hard) are over 50 years of age.”

Miller says he has heard that this has been used as a method of screening out older candidates.

Yes this is going out on a limb!  I have always argued and will continue to that ‘correct’ format is two spaces after a full stop  AND shock horror I am not over 50.  This is a slight bone of contention between Rebecca and myself when we write together – though so far I believe I have managed to win that particular battle!

On a different note there was a ripple on Twitter yesterday when Unum issues a report on key trends for the future workplace with a rather interesting graphic and identifying four trends: the ageless workforce, the mindful workforce, the intuitive workforce and the collaborative workforce.  Truth be told there didn’t seem to be much of an evidence base for their ideas, and certainly not one which drew on academic research.  It was also written in rather poor marketing speak providing soundbites such as: “The ageless workforce enables ‘returnment’ instead of ‘retirement’ and enables people to work forever”.  Yes they really did say “forever”, firmly stating that this is what employees want.  However in this happily every after story that’s OK because it will be a “zenergetic workplace” (no I did not make that up).

The more detailed section on the ‘Ageless Workplace’ focused almost exclusively on older workers and suggested that “the workplace is becoming increasingly ageless because employees no longer see age as a factor in work ability”.  Reports of age discrimination by both younger and older workers would seem to highlight that the problem might be that EMPLOYERS don’t share this view.  A few pages on the report offers an “ageless workplace toolkit” which is in fact a list of ten bullet points.

As for the methodology, interviews with 9 experts and a survey of 1000 workers in a select number of sectors does not really support the claims that are put forward.  Not sure what they were aiming for here but I can’t help but think they missed the mark.

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One Comment
  1. Very entertained to see this about spaces after full-stops.
    And just to unpack my own view which is that in word processing software I think you don’t have to add two spaces because the space automatically allocated after a full stop is slightly bigger than the space between two words without punctuation. Or at least, that’s what I think! It may of course be an optical illusion.
    However, Katrina and I are in full agreement that we think there should be more space after a full stop than in other parts of a sentence. Does that show our age?

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