Why Your Age Might be a Factor in Your Job Search

By the Ignite Career Center of JCS

Did you know that your age can be a deterrent for companies that are hiring? And the age isn’t as high as you might think. “Mature workers” are considered age forty and above! SHOCKING! 

Due to the increase in living costs and lower social security payments, an alarming number of mature workers are unable to stop working at retirement age. Unfortunately, with that increase in age, chances of landing an interview and a job offer tend to dwindle. On average, it can take a mature worker up to four times as long to go through the process and gain employment.  

As research has shown, ageism happens across all industries, but it is especially prevalent in the technology field, and women tend to experience it at higher rates than men. 

Why the bias? 

As a mature worker, you may be seen as a liability and might be seen as potentially causing an employer’s health insurance premiums to increase. However, this is often an inaccurate assumption as age does not automatically mean that you are unhealthy. 

You are also competing against younger generations who are perceived as faster, more efficient, and more up to date on current trends and technology. This is inaccurate because your age does not dictate your level of skill or productivity.  

Is this focus on age a form of discrimination and bias? YES! 

Is ageism a real thing? ABSOLUTELY! 

You aren’t battling to prove the years of related experience you offer. You are fighting the general biases that people have of older employees, such as: 

  1. Lower energy  
  2. Less forward thinking  
  3. More health-related concerns  
  4. Lack of computer and/or current technology proficiency 
  5. Resistance to change; unwillingness to learn anything new 
  6. Expectation of a higher salary to account for experience level 

Here are some things you can do to decrease this bias: 

  1. Show hiring managers that you are energetic, enthusiastic, and forward thinking 
  2. Let employers know that you are comfortable with change and willing to learn new things 
  3. Fill your resume with the latest terminology in your field; convert old tactics to new 
  4. Keep your resume and online social media account(s) active, up to date, and relevant 
  5. Tell stories that use current terminology; show your understanding of latest industry trends 
  6. Show that you can be an asset as a subject matter expert in the field 
  7. Invest in yourself; take classes online to increase your skills and technology knowledge if necessary 

The truth is, there are many benefits to being a seasoned professional. You and your peers: 

  • Offer a much broader array of job skills, abilities, and experience 
  • Typically take less personal and sick days 
  • Are dedicated, professional workers, looking to invest in a company and offer longevity 
  • Understand how a business operates and the contribution you can offer  
  • Are more willing to share your skills with others in order to help them grow 
  • Create a more diverse team which leads to an increase in staff performance and productivity, promotes a more positive work environment, and can reduce employee turnover rates 

Younger professionals are often eager for salary increases, job promotions, more work life balance, and better healthcare. They are often not looking to stay at a company for their entire careers; they are waiting for the next best thing.  

Since 2018, the number of formal complaints submitted under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) has tripled. Mature workers are tired of the discrimination and biased assumptions made by employers and are more motivated than ever to help create an equal and just professional space. Even so, more than half of those who either experience or witness age discrimination do not report it. If you yourself notice ageism in the workplace, say something! 

Whether you are new to the job market or a seasoned professional, the Ignite Career Center, a program of Jewish Community Services, can help you go further and get there faster. Our highly experienced Career Coaches provide individuals of all backgrounds and abilities with the customized services and tools they need to stand out from the competition. To learn more, visit ignitecareercenter.com or call 410-466-9200

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