I have to admit that when I was in my ‘30s and ‘40s, I never thought I’d write about age discrimination, but now that I’m in my ‘50s and seen it first-hand, I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic.
Coincidently, there was a syndicated article in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News, “Age Discrimination in Hiring is Hard to Prove,” that talked about one woman’s struggle to get hired; they liked her resume and the screening call went well, but when it came time to meet in person, they “saw the wrinkles.”
I have a friend, John (name changed). John is 65 years old, but not yet ready to stop working or even work part time. He has excellent credentials and was just finally hired for full-time work after being out of work for more than a year. The holdup? His age.
Even though we know that employers cannot ask your age, it’s one of those barriers that is obvious on a resume and, naturally, in person. And, even though John is eager at 65, he still is a certain “age” that says to employers, “I haven’t much time left to work; the most you’ll get out of me is a few years.”
I didn’t come up with that; that’s how he feels. I am so glad John is now employed full time, but I do feel for those who aren’t as fortunate. I read all the time about how seniors are embarking on second careers, but most of the time, it’s because they have money in the bank to help finance those careers. Unfortunately, the stereotype most of us, including me, think about when it comes to second careers is a Wal-Mart greeter or museum security guard.
I’d like to see this change. While I’m not as old as John and own my business, how long will it be before I get a referral for business and the potential client thinks I’m too “senior” to serve them well? Sure, I can explain all day long how qualified I am for the gig – and even possibly work in the fact that with age comes a whole lot of experience – but the stigma still exists.
Instead, I’d like to see employers look at experience and knowledge, and totally negate age. Again, it’s not something anyone will ever admit to, but we know it’s there. Instead of buying the car because it’s shiny and new, look under the hood where you’ll find an oiled engine that rarely sputters out.