Mature candidates & CV-19 – as seen by a headhunter

This is an email one of our experienced clients received upon sending their CV to a recruiter based in DACH they had known for some time:

“Thank you for your update on the CV.

To answer your question: Honestly, the situation is currently anything but pleasant for people who are currently looking for a new job. That’s in general.

Of course, it is especially difficult for us “silverbacks”. Because: many companies are looking for experienced managers, but when it becomes down to choosing, the topic of age is unfortunately always limited to around 50 plus.

Sure, if someone perfectly fulfils the requirements of a company, it barely goes up to 55. Unfortunately, in about 2000 positions that I was able to fill, only one candidate was older than 55. Incredible, but unfortunately true.

It is different if you know a company or an owner somewhere that knows and appreciates you personally. I would set up an application strategy in such a way that you work through your network intensively and see who knows whom from your network who knows whom who is looking for someone… Labor-intensive, but this will probably lead you to an interesting job.

Mr. XXX, you have my phone number. On the one hand I hope that I could give you some clarity, on the other hand you can always call me for further questions and tips.

I hope you will find a new challenge soon. For our part, we will keep you in evidence and…. see if the situation on the market will hopefully improve soon …

best regards

This email may stir up lots of emotions and opinions. We’ll add to that another incident:

Case: 53-year old CEO in the pharma industry was told by an Executive Search Consultant from a known firm, “You are over 50. Think about early retirement or something like that. There’s no place for you on the job market.” [FYI: 9 months later our client started an interim project that led to permanent employment as CEO for a region.]

One thing is to “manage expectations”, another one is to infer that one’s opinion or experience is the market standard. The fact that that particular recruiter had not placed anybody over 55, doesn’t mean that that’s true for all headhunters.

This is what the data saysthe statistics of our clients for 2019:

  • 43% of our clients were between 46 and 55 years old
  • 6% were over 56+ years old

And they achieved the same results as anybody else when looking for a job:

  • 85.5% found a job
  • 11% decided not to change despite other offers
  • 3.5% set up their own companies / went into self-employment

The only statistically significant difference: the job search time is 24 weeks longer.

Our message: do not take one person’s experience / opinion / piece of advice for the absolute truth. Based on our clients’ data, we know that usually interviews (and interview partners) can be split into 3 groups:

  • 1/3: good, prepared, valuable, competent, professional
  • 1/3: neutral, random
  • 1/3: unprofessional, pessimistic

Are you a mature candidate facing challenges on the current job market? Feel free to get in touch with us via our website by clicking here or by sending an email to who will personally match you with the most appropriate career consultant on our team.