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Chit-chat with Alison Monroe from Adage

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 1:33pm Thursday 29 January 2009    Print Article

Earlier this week, I received a media release from the niche job board Adage that the Directors have decided to put the job board up for sale, and concentrate on their other businesses. I spoke with Alison Monroe, one of the Directors of Adage, offering some advice (having gone through a sale of my own recently) and here is the summary from our discussions.

How did you come up with the idea for Adage?

Adage was launched in July 2006 in response to employer demand for better age balance in their candidate pool. SageCo (our other company) had been working with a number of companies developing age management plans, firstly ‘starting from within’ and focusing on the engagement, retention and knowledge capture of their existing mature staff, but later, on attraction and recruitment strategies. This is when the gap in the market became obvious. There was a barrier to entry for mature job seekers! So a few early adopters like AMP, IAG and St George Bank put their hat in the ring and helped to launch an online community of mature job seekers – Adage.

Why have the Directors decided to sell and part ways with the job board?

We feel that after two years we have achieved what we set out to achieve in the first instance. We have created a job board where mature applicants know they will be given a fair go and where employers know they will find solid experience. We have put mature worker employment firmly on the agenda and received a lot of media attention and momentum. It is now time to pass on the baton and ‘let go and grow’.

What are your future plans?

SageCo is growing fast as employees face up to the demographic challenge. When the dust has settled on the current economic crisis, the reality is that the skills shortage will return and baby boomers will resume their exodus from the workforce. 

SageCo has built a solid track record of assisting employers with knowledge transfer, thereby reducing the risk of critical know-how walking out the door. We also round that off by assisting mature workers to plan for a successful retirement – which goes way beyond looking at their superannuation balance. This is our core skill set, focus and passion in the years ahead. Our Co-Director Jodi Stanton also has a number of successful online ventures in growth mode and requiring her full attention. 

How has Adage made a difference in the marketplace?

We have volumes of emails from mature workers and employers large and small, commending Adage on the role we have played in filling a gap in the market. One very marketable mature candidate spent two years and submitted over 120 applications through agencies and large job boards without response, before applying for one role on Adage and being employed by a large insurance company where she has had a really successful few years.

We have played a major role in educating the market about the business benefits of hiring maturity and are delighted that insightful agencies like 2discover and 360hr have embraced the concept. They in turn are now educating their corporate clients that this is a major component of tomorrow’s workforce.

Why should employers recruit mature job seekers?

It is all a matter of balance. Aiming for an organizational age profile that more closely mirrors the total workforce in Australia and importantly, the customer base. At the end of the day, all the research stacks up – diverse work teams are more productive. Mature employees also stay longer in the job than their younger colleagues and this represents a significant cost saving.

What will the future hold for mature job seekers?

There is a silver lining to every cloud and the current climate has made employers realize how vital knowledge and experience can be when the going gets tough. The boomers have ‘been there, done that’ and are able to help organizations navigate through these tough times.

One employer recently mentioned how they have ‘recalled’ a number of their retirees to the workforce and they are now highly coveted for their insights and wisdom.  This is music to our ears at Adage! 

What have been some of the challenges you have faced with Adage?

It is always chicken and egg with job boards – you need the roles to attract the candidates and you need candidates to attract employer advertising. However, you only need one ‘right’ applicant to fill the role and we have focused on quality not quantity.

We have found that employers have been slow to adapt to the resume search functionality and rely heavily on posting a job and awaiting applicants. Those who have mined the rich database have come up trumps and found some excellent talent.

What has been your most satisfying achievement with Adage?

Receiving the Diversity@Work Award from Sir Bob Geldof in November 2008 was a real highlight for the Adage team and recognition of everyone’s hard work and commitment.

Alison, I wish you and the other Directors all the best with your sale process, and look forward to what the future may hold for Adage

IMAGE RIGHT – Adage Director Alison Monroe with Sir Bob Geldof at the Diversity@Work Awards Night Nov 2008

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