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Yesterday, I ran into a 49-year old lady, who spent a good amount of time describing the difficulties she was running into with her job search, all of which she believed was age related. She is not the only one. Recently, I have spoken to a good number of job-seekers who believe that the primary reason why they are not finding a job, getting the position they want or even just a promotion is because they are too old??!!
If you are thinking “age discrimination” you may not be wrong at all. Unquestionably age discrimination is illegal and while most employers may not want to make decisions based upon age, there seems to be a growing prejudice which suggests that employees approaching 40 years, or over must be inferior in attitude, performance and skills when compared to younger applicants (currently also known as Generation-Y) being considered for the same job. In an article by Robin Ryan of Careerbuilder.com, ‘Look younger for your Job search,’ Ryan lists computer skills, eagerness, and initiative, as attributes that under-40s may bring to the work place. She also states that this age group is perceived to be, “less old fashioned and stuck to their ways”.
Such views seem even more credible when large and very visible organizations get caught in the web. Take for instance, in a Los Angeles Times news article, writer, Maura Dolan reports that, Former Google director, Brian Reid, lost his job. According to Reid, this was as a result of age bias, and he backs up his claims with the fact that had been told by the company that he was not a, “cultural fit” he was also called “sluggish,” “lethargic” and “an old fuddy duddy”.
Wow! You might say, but there is a second view to this argument. A good number of individuals believe that the inability for older (and all other) candidates to find jobs in recent times, has more to do with the current economy than it has to do with any bias; after all there are multiple reports out there that establish that Generation-Y is currently having an equally difficult time securing jobs.
My view? If you already feel that your interviewer is going to be biased against you, you are not going to be at your best. There are ways that employers can anticipate your age, even before inviting you to an interview, so if you have been invited to an interview, focus on those aspects of you that got you invited in the first place. If you haven’t been invited to an interview yet, step back and look at the way you are making applications, your resume, your skills and qualifications and so on. Find out what you are doing wrong, and if you can afford it, get professional help. Remember, employers don’t go recruiting new employees because they are looking for a higher expense; they do so because they have a need that has to be met. Irrespective of the age of the candidate, it is their job to convince the employer that by hiring them, they will meet those needs.