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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Deal With Age Discrimination When Finding a New Job

While employers generally will not tell you that you are being passed over because of your age, some do seek out younger workers to fill vacancies. Employers discriminate because they may feel that they can hire a junior candidate for a lower price than an older one would command. They may be afraid that workers who have reached middle age or beyond will be too set in their ways to adapt to the company culture. And some hiring managers are simply uncomfortable hiring and directing workers who may be their parents' age. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome the discrimination that older job-seekers might face.


De-emphasize aspects of your resume that suggest you are older. Resume screeners can often get a sense of your age by looking at the year you graduated and the time frame of your earliest jobs. Omit the year you left school and leave out your earliest job or two unless they are critical to your professional experience. Remember, your resume is a marketing tool, not a confessional. You need not include information that does not advance your case. Let the hiring manager focus on your skills, not your years on Earth. But remember: Never lie on your resume or job application.

Keep skills up to date. Older workers may battle the perception that they lack familiarity with cutting-edge technology and the latest industry trends. They can quickly put such fears to rest by staying current with necessary software. Attending industry conferences to stay abreast of what is going on can be helpful. Reference new skills and knowledge on a resume, in a cover letter and in interviews.

Focus on networking. Because you have years of experience, you are likely to have more and deeper contacts than younger competitors. Leverage them. Additionally, chances are you will be applying for more senior positions. Because a bad hire at this level can be a costly mistake, managers frequently like to fill these jobs with people they know, or at least people referred to them by someone they know.

Look into legal action if you believe you have been discriminated against. Most of the time, it is more productive to focus on your job search and avoid lawyers and courtrooms, but if you believe the unfair treatment is blatant, then get in touch with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or consult with a lawyer well versed in labor law. You may be allowing an employer to break the law at your expense.

Tips & Warnings
  • Not all companies are created equal when it comes to hiring older workers, so ask around in your industry to find which ones value experience versus the ones striving for a culture of youth.
  • Job hunting is partially a numbers game; because a certain percentage of employers practice age discrimination. You may simply have to apply for more jobs than you would if you were younger.

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