Age Discrimination is Alive and Kicking
Securing a job at any age is difficult. For the older unemployed (anyone over 35) the battle to find employment opportunities can be a humbling and a devastating experience. After all, most at that age are accustomed to a lifestyle where financial quakes damage the individual and the family beyond imagination.
Though discrimination based upon race, age, religion and the sorts is illegal, we all know discrimination is alive and kicking in the hiring process. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s just the way it is. Taking a realistic look at what old folks are facing as they apply and interview, it’s time to understand the reasons from the other side of the desk.
Let’s take a moment and look through employer eyes to evaluate his or her justification to overtly break established rules of conduct by excluding the most experienced.
* Old folks are often labeled as expensive whereas younger adults work for less. True or not, no matter your age, it’s about value and return on investment which drives the hiring process. For those oldies out there, your greatest advantage over the youngsters is hands-on experience. First-hand knowledge means less training costs, less job confusion, less attrition, and less professional guesswork. First-hand knowledge also means more work diversity, more problem/resolution issues have been tackled, and an increase of confidence.
* Old folks are only looking to work for a few years while youngsters are seeking a career. True or not (and I lean to not true), employee age is not a good indictor to career tenure. Statistically, workers change their careers 4 to 6 times during their life… that number is expected to increase as technology is creating remote-friendly offices and global competition. Old or young, it is up to you to convince employers that you are looking for stability and your loyalty will not be questioned.
* Old folks carry baggage and they are not worth retraining. What are your thoughts: Why do some employers think this way? True or not, many believe that an employee who has been working in the field for 20 years or more is not willing to change with the times. After all, employers can hire a newbie with a clean slate and not have to worry about bad habits. Your goal, young or old, is to confirm the ability to learn new things and the desire to cross-train into other departments. By doing so, you are showing hiring managers a progressive character and work ethic. Taking advantage of professional development opportunities adds huge points in your favor… sitting back over past 20 years doing the same job over and over again (without attempting to learn or progress) takes points away.
To summarize, discrimination is a part of life, and I suspect it will be a constant tag along. Recognizing what drives hiring decisions (to the good or to the not-so-good) allows one to establish a counter attack, effectually introducing your arsenal of value which will sway perceptions to your favor.
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Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
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