It may surprise you that age discrimination impacts both the youngest and oldest professionals in the job market and employment. Despite, the inroads in perception and equality for women, gay people, disabled people and minorities, ageism remains prevalent in the workforce.
Ageism has been illegal since the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed 50 years ago. The 1967 act, “protects certain applicants and employees from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age.” However, did you know that only workers who are at least 40 years old are allowed to file a claim under the ADEA?
Successful business leaders with several decades of experience offer vast amounts of industry knowledge and professional sophistication. However, the perceptions of older job seekers and employees over 50 remain challenging because they are sometimes viewed as resistant to learn new skills and simply putting in time until retirement. Also, there’s the money factor; the older you are, the higher the salary requirements. Some of the most common misconceptions is that older employees are not as productive, are resistant to change, are less technically savvy, and not as innovative as their younger counterparts.
Executives can apply various strategies to avoid these preconceived notions. In an active job search, executives over 50 can focus on the last 10-15 years of experience. Early decades of work experience on a resume are not necessary to include. As an applicant and an employee, older executives should consistently project energy, enthusiasm and an interest in new opportunities and training.
Although ageism is often thought of as a problem for older employees, on the other side of the coin, younger professionals also experience biases as both a job seeker and employee. Stereotypes of people born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are causing some companies to be reluctant to hire anyone under 40. These attitudes and stereotypes include opinions that young workers are lazy, spoiled, unpredictable, unreliable, and unprofessional. In addition, employers tend to believe that young workers are not loyal and will leave their employer once a better opportunity presents itself. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees 45–54 stayed on the job twice as long as those 25–34.
Creativity, innovation, and motivation are at their best when there is diversity in the workforce, including age diversity. Older executives offer decades of industry experience, skills and expertise that are invaluable in the work environment. Knowing how to position yourself effectively as the solution to an organization’s needs through your skillset is critical to your job search success at any age.