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Age Discrimination and Age Bias

Yes, age bias and age discrimination are alive and well!  But you don’t have to fall victim to it.

Make sure everything about your job application, and you as a potential employee, do not reinforce any age barrier.

Why does age discrimination exist?

Like all forms of discrimination, it is based on misguided assumptions or beliefs that older people

  • are technologically out of date.
  • have more health issues so they will take more sick leave.
  • are set in their ways and can’t or won’t learn new tricks.
  • have less energy and are really looking to just coast to retirement.

Before you get indignant and insist none of these apply to you, think of it this way. Let’s acknowledge that one or more of these thoughts may be in the mind of the person who has some control over your fate. Hiring authorities don’t want to be accused of age discrimination.  This means that you can’t discuss their age bias with them openly, even if you’d like to question it.

So what do you have control over and what do you not?

Clearly, you have no control over your chronological age, and you can’t actually eliminate an individual’s age bias.

But you can mitigate the impact of these biases with a long hard look at yourself. Let’s examine them, one by one.

Older people have more health issues

Are you doing everything you can to maintain your health? Do you appear healthy and vital?  The interview will draw assumptions.

Older people are set in their ways and can’t or won’t learn new tricks (processes, methods, programs, etc.)

It’s not enough to say “I love learning new things!” Think back throughout your career and think of examples and stories that clearly indicate that you have eagerly embraced learning opportunities. Find opportunities to weave those examples in to the conversation.

Older people are technologically and otherwise out of date.

If your technology skills are out of date it may be assumed that your ideas and professional skills are out of date as well. In the world we are now living in, outdated tech skills really do impact your effectiveness. Clearly if you are not prepared to operate in a digital world your prospects are significantly limited in the mind of the employer. If you find yourself challenged in this area do something about it without delay.

Take a look in the mirror. Is your physical presence up to date? Nothing screams old like out of date glasses, clothes and hair style. Maybe physical appearance shouldn’t matter, but we all know that it does.

Older people have less energy and are really looking to just coast to retirement.

Again, what does your physical presence say? Are you looking people in the eye, smiling, walking with energy? How do you spend your free time? If you are involved in any higher energy pursuits (running, hiking, camping, etc.) you may be able to work it in to the conversation.

Demonstrate the positives of age

There are many! Older workers can be a great asset to the workforce for many reasons that can outweigh the perceived negatives. It’s no secret that a stronger work ethic, greater loyalty, less drama and more professional maturity often come with hiring older workers. We were raised differently, look at work differently and aren’t necessarily looking for the next great job. Think of examples of times when you have displayed those qualities as well, and look for opportunities to tell those stories.

Put yourself in the employer’s shoes.

The employer wants to find and hire people that will embrace their new role enthusiastically, will bring fresh thoughts to the table and will be a fully participating member of the team. That’s you, right?

BoomersNextStep has many articles of interest to you

Read on to find our many articles about age discrimination, and all aspects of job search for older workers.

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