For adults on the job hunt, age presents a challenge. Switching careers and re-entering the workforce are challenges enough to overcome. Older Americans are further challenged by discriminatory practices due to age. A lifetime of accomplishments and knowledge are still worth something. Before sending off a resume, update it in language for today’s interviewers. Prepare for interviews beforehand to warm up.
Age discrimination is a real issue for older Americans in the workforce. Complicating matters, recent actions by the United States Supreme Court render it practically impossible to know whether age bias played a role during an interview. Thanks to the Court, the Age Discrimination Employment Act (originally designed to protect older adults from age bias) has limits on protection. This ruling complicates the job search for older adults that want to continue working. Almost two-thirds of employees from ages 55-64 responded age is preventing employment, according to a 2017 AARP survey.
Workplace culture placing emphasis on older employees could introduce openings or promotions rewarding those with years of experience. AARP Senior Attorney Laurie McCann encourages this type of forward-thinking. Tulane University professor Patrick Switch is an age bias researcher. Switch says people today enjoy working beyond retirement age. Employers should view age and experience as a bonus.
Age as an Advantage
For those already employed, addressing age bias can be easier than for those applying for a position. Keeping track of potential age discrimination in the workplace can help address and correct age bias. Often, employers may be unaware of their actions. Age bias happens in more places than the interview. Employees passed over for management and training opportunities due to age are victims of age bias as well.
For job seekers, a resume is the first line of defense against age bias. Tailor a resume for the industry and audience it will reach. Include the most-recent experience. Demonstrate a willingness to learn, and be part of a team. During an interview, combat stereotypes. Dress for the environment. If the office has a casual environment, leave the three-piece suit at home. Show a willingness to work with a younger team. Rather than age, draw attention to experience.
Oftentimes, smaller and younger corporations are eager for older talent. The experience comes as a boon to smaller operations where team members wear many hats. Additionally, age-friendly employers can be found through the AARP and by using sources such as seniorjobbank.org. Persistence is your best ally; sending resumes will eventually result in an interview.
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