Believe it, or not, job seekers are reporting age discrimination beginning as early as the mid-thirties. By the time you reach your forties, you can be considered washed up in some industries. There are strategies you can use to help mitigate discrimination issues. There are also laws that prohibit employment discrimination because of age.
Age Discrimination Issues
In addition, to being considered "old," experienced candidates are some times considered more of an expense (higher salary, pension, benefits costs, etc.) than a younger applicant would be.
If you are middle-aged, or even younger, keep in mind that you are not alone:
- Workers over 45 are unemployed longer than younger workers.
- By 2018, the number of employees over 55 will reach 39 million, compared to 27 million in 2008.
- More older workers are considering postponing retirement because of the down economy.
- Research has found no relationship between age and job performance.
Employment discrimination happens when a job seeker or an employee is treated unfavorably because of his or her race, skin color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or age. Here's information on age discrimination and other employment discrimination issues.
Age Discrimination and Job Search Options
What options are there for those potential employees considered "old" by hiring managers and companies? How can you address the perception that older workers are not as capable or as qualified as younger counterparts?
Job Search Tips for Older Workers
There are strategies older job seekers can implement to help expedite a job search and to find gainful, and meaningful, employment. Here are tips for job searching and writing resumes and cover letters, specifically for older job seekers.
More Job Search Tips for Older Workers
Joyce Lain Kennedy's Resumes for Dummies provides resume writing tips for older workers:
- On your resume limit your experience to 15 years for a managerial job, 10 years for a technical job, and 5 years for a high-tech job
- Leave your other experience off your resume or list it without dates in an Other Experience category
- Consider using a functional resume rather than a chronological resume
Age Issues and Interview Success
Job Interviews for Dummies, also by Joyce Lain Kennedy, recommends emphasizing the positive when interviewing:
- Project yourself as cheerful and flexible and back that up with proof of your skills and success
- Review the benefits of older workers - commitment to a career, hands-on experience, a track record of success, stable, realistic expectations - and think about how they apply to you
- Use storytelling techniques to back up your claims of these skills
Age and Salary Issues
Let potential employers know that you are flexible. Even though you may have earned six figures in the past, perhaps you no longer need to or you would be willing to accept a lower salary to get your foot in the door.
If that's the case, mention in your cover letters, when salary requirements are asked for, that yours are flexible or negotiable, based upon the position and the entire compensation package, including benefits.
Age Discrimination Law
Finally, if you believe you have been discriminated against because of your age, there are the protections provide by age discrimination law. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The law is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Any individual who believes that his or her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with EEOC: