How Can an Older Job Seeker Fight Age Discrimination?
As much as we hate to believe it, age discrimination – though illegal – happens every day.
Older job applicants constantly run into job site applications with drop-down menus requiring them to choose their year of college graduation or first job – but the dates stop at 1980. (If you do your math, that would effectively rule out people over 52.) Other job sites use dates ranging from 1950 to 1970 as cutoffs. The fact is, today’s workforce includes many people working in their 70’s and 80’s. Barring older people from commonly used job search sites because of their age is discriminatory and negatively impacts our economy.
If the older job seeker understands what contributes to this bias, he or she might be able to proactively address any of the following typical concerns that a potential employer might have.
- They are going to want a huge salary.
There is a preconception by some recruiters and hiring managers that older, more experienced job candidates will require a higher salary than they can offer. When you’re looking to make a career change into a new industry or position, most companies expect you to accept a lower salary. This can actually work in your favor if you’re open to the option because you can work your way up again. It works in the company’s favor because they receive this great knowledge and experience that a younger job applicant can’t provide.
- They won’t understand the latest technology.
Technophobe is a term given to older job seekers by some hiring managers because they think older job applicants are behind the times when it comes to technology. There’s an easy way to help this – simply make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile show any technology or specific software skills you might have.
- They won’t fit into our young culture.
The sad fact is, some companies are biased against hiring older employees. However, there are multiple benefits for older workers who want to stay employed well into the traditional retirement years, usually through part-time work, smaller companies, flexible jobs or self-employment.
So, how do you counteract these concerns?
Network, Network, Network
Most older job seekers have developed an extensive network. You might not have the connections you want to make in the industry you want to move into, but someone you know does. All the technology available nowadays makes it easier to find connections, namely online networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. These sites offer all job seekers a convenient way to find friends, colleagues and other contacts who might help them get hired.
Brush up on any skills gaps
If there is a particular industry or role you want to move into, make sure you identify any missing skills or qualifications you will need for this position. Want to move into education? Get a teaching certificate. Want to go into marketing? Take an online Marketing course. Adding these skill sets to your application demonstrates that you are willing and able to adapt and learn for the job you’re applying to.
Look at other options
This will depend on your skill set and income needs, but you could start exploring other options, including freelance work, consulting or even starting your own business. When it comes to hiring consultants or freelance workers, there seems to be less bias. Many older job seekers have translated their experience into these less traditional roles. Just remember this, your age and experience are an asset.
The fight against age discrimination is an ongoing battle. Ageism is wrong and unacceptable. In the meantime, the clear message from job experts is that older workers need to nurture their networks and connections. So, if you’re about to jump back into the job market as an older applicant, now is an opportune time to tap into your network to find your next gig.