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Age Discrimination, also known as Ageism, is when employees are mistreated in the workplace due to their age. In 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Age Discrimination Employment Act, which prohibited employers from displaying bias against employees that were 40 or older when recruiting, distributing promotions, and determining compensation. Even though this Act was passed over 50 years ago, age discrimination is still alive in the workplace today. Recently (on June 23rd, 2021, to be exact), The House passed The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act of 2021. The bill would “finally restore legal rights of older workers by ensuring burdens of proof in age discrimination claims will be categorized in the same manner as other discrimination claims.”

According to a 2018 AARP survey, 61% of older workers have either faced or observed age bias. With the current shortage of workers in the job market, many older job seekers find it difficult to even get an interview. In a 2020 Senior Living survey, more than 70 percent of workers 60 and older said their age would be an obstacle to getting a new job today. Being discriminated against due to your age is challenging to pinpoint. Recruiters may tell you that you don't have the right skills or experience (which can be shocking feedback). So, what can you do to be considered for a role?  

  1. Take the time to expand on your current skillset:

If you're currently searching for a job and are in the middle of updating your resume, take some time to re-evaluate your skills. What are employers looking for in your field? Are they in search of someone with specific experience? Can you get the upper hand with a certification or particular skills? If so, how long will it take, and what can you do now to start planning?

Take the time to evaluate your next steps. Entering the job market can be intimidating, but analyzing the industries you want to join can help ease the tension. Additionally, making sure you’re up to date with the latest technology might sound overwhelming, but with some time and patience, learning how to utilize different applications can give you the push needed to be a top candidate for a position. You might even be able to help someone else within the company learn something new!

  1. Utilize your experience for your future roles:

The step seems self-explanatory, but many job seekers overlook its importance. Your past skills are as, if not more, important as the new ones you choose to learn. Reliable core skills or proven soft skills can showcase your experience and wisdom in a field where you excel. Applying to jobs that allow you to demonstrate those skills can help you become a candidate of choice.

Furthermore, being skilled in one position doesn't define your future work! Relating skills from one place to another can be called a "transferable skill," meaning you can apply what you know to other positions. Whether you are in the market for a career change or not, identifying your transferable skills can help you identify companies that will value what you bring to the table.

  1. Overcome obstacles:

Put yourself in the recruiter's shoes or hiring manager and consider why someone might be reluctant to hire someone older. Are they afraid you won’t be able to pick up on the technology? Highlight your learner’s mentality, the technology you have learned recently, and how adaptable you are in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Afraid you don’t have enough energy? Keep yourself fit and list your physical activities or hobbies on your profile.

  1. Know your strengths:

Having more world experience gives you experiences and stories to draw on. Highlight times in the past you have mentored others or helped your boss meet their goals. Include times you’ve been open to feedback or mentoring from others.

  1. Increase your job search skills:

Use LinkedIn as a job search tool. Set aside time to research companies, peers, and recruiters. This will benefit you in the long run and potentially shorten your job search. Doing some detective work can help you identify companies and teams who will appreciate what you have to offer. Attend Leveraging LinkedIn and Effective Job Search Strategies to learn more.

Hiring is one of the most critical and challenging decisions that an organization makes—understanding more about how hiring works can help you be more effective in your job search. How you job search matters.

Pro Tip: Always stay as professional as possible on LinkedIn. Include a friendly message when you connect with someone on LinkedIn to increase the odds that they’ll accept your invitation.

Teams of people are made up of unique individuals. While age discrimination may be alive and well, there are plenty of opportunities out there for everyone. Speak your own story confidently, keeping in mind that your experience and skills are an asset, not only to you, but to your future team.

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