Difficulties Finding Jobs Because of Age Problems

by Stan Mack

Finding a job can be difficult in the best circumstances, never mind when ageism or age-related problems limit your employability. Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal under federal law, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. At some point, nearly all middle-aged and older workers suffer an employment-related action based on age bias, according to the book “Age Discrimination in the American Workplace: Old at a Young Age,” by Raymond F. Gregory.

Legal Action

If an employer discriminates against you based on age, you might be able to stage a successful lawsuit. Speak with an experienced attorney to find out if there is sufficient evidence to warrant legal action. But age-related discrimination can be hard to prove, so you might have no option but to press on with the job search.

Potential Concerns

Employers might be hesitant to hire an older worker, for several reasons. The employer might fear that an older worker won’t take direction, especially from younger, less experienced managers. Or, perhaps the job is physically demanding, for example, requiring frequent lifting or extensive travel. Maybe the employer worries that you will retire soon, meaning that training a younger worker would be a better investment. Other biases include a perception that older people are lethargic and have less drive, or that older people will cost more money in administrative or health insurance costs.

Alleviate the Concern

Regardless of the legality of the age bias, sometimes addressing the underlying concerns employers have is the most effective approach to landing the job, according to the book “The 250 Job Interview Questions,” by Peter Veruki. For example, if you believe the interviewer is concerned about your advanced age because she isn’t sure you can fulfill the physical requirements of the job, find a way to alleviate that concern. Talk about how physically active you are, or point to recent employment history that shows you are up to the task. If you’re not sure what the underlying concern is, but something in the tone of the questions tells you there is a problem, Veruki suggests politely asking what the concern is so you can deal with it.

Young Job Applicants

Young people aren’t immune from age discrimination, but they might not be protected by federal law. For example, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 only protects people 40 years of age or older. That means employers may favor, based on age, workers who are over 40 years of age even if that action discriminates against workers who are under 40 years of age, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

About the Author

Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.

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