Older Job Applicants: An Untapped Resource


unemployment7As I close out my second month of my search for full-time employment as an “Over 50” Job Seeker, I am finding myself faced with, shall we say, “challenges”.

An article found at TheLadders.com touches on these issues…

“It’s a complicated issue and, yes, it is a problem,” said Laurence J. Stybel, co-founder of Stybel, Peabody & Associates Inc., and executive in residence at the Sawyer School of Business at Suffolk University in Boston. “It’s becoming an acute problem because many baby boomers who thought they were going to retire at 59 1/2 to 62 are now dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of their job security and the collapse of their retirement funds and are saying, ‘Now I have to work till 68 or maybe 70.’ But employers aren’t interested in that.”

What recourse does an older job seeker have?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects people 40 years old and older from discrimination based on age. But that doesn’t mean that such discrimination doesn’t happen, said Stybel.

Many people try to hide their ages on their resumes, by leaving off years of graduation and including only the last 15 years or so of work experience. Unless you appear exceptionally young for your age or have resorted to some kind of plastic surgery, this strategy will be effective only until they meet you.

Instead of trying to obfuscate your age, said Stybel, address it head-on.

“Because of the legalities, employers and potential employers are not going to bring up the issue of age,” he said. “If you as the job candidate don’t bring up the issue, it’s not going to be discussed. And, if it’s not discussed, it works to your disadvantage.”

Emphasize the experience and work ethic that come with age, while demonstrating the flexibility and hunger to succeed that are often attributed more to younger workers.

“A lot of companies want young people because they’re hungry,” said Stybel. “The assumption is that somebody 55 or older has got the retirement all set up, the kids are out of college, they don’t need the money, they aren’t hungry. [Potential employers won’t] ask you how hungry you are. It’s a rude question, and it also indirectly deals with age, so it could be an illegal question. It’s up to you to bring it up. Say, ‘I’m hungry; I really want the money, I need the money, I’m going to work my ass off for you.’ ”

Carrell Chadwell, a psychologist and the author of “Changing Careers in a Changing World,” noted that many employers will question (at least to themselves) the length of time an older worker will be with an organization. Again, the best defense is a strong offense, said Chadwell: “They’re likely to wonder how long you are going to stay. You want to mention that. Tell them what your goals are and that you will be there at least several years.”

A more complicated issue is that of health insurance, or, from an employer’s perspective, how much will this person cost our company?

“As people get older, they’re going to use health insurance more,” said Stybel. “And, particularly in small businesses, the cost of health insurance goes up every year, and it’s a major cost. So, when an employer looks at a candidate over the age of 55, they’re going to say, ‘If I hire her, won’t my health insurance costs go through the roof? Because there’s her, there’s her husband …’ But they won’t bring it up because of the legal issues and because it’s awkward.”

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. The ADEA permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older.

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA.

Now, all of that is great. However, as I have written in the past, employers are looking to hire younger candidates, as they feel that they are more technologically savvy, more energetic, and will fit better into their “Company Culture”.

What employers sometimes fail to realize, is the fact that business veterans, such as myself, have a wealth of experience which will benefit their company, both externally, through and internally, through wisdom gained from decades in the Business World.

Additionally, Business Veterans, worth their salt, have kept up with the New Technology.

Most of us even know how to program a DVR.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.



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