[Author’s Note: Dedicated to my father of blessed memory, for whom until the day he was felled by a heart attack in his 60’s, retirement was a dirty word.]
HEY KIDS, Grandma & Grandpa are coming over this weekend.” Awright! I love it when Grandpa plays catch with me. I remember how much we used to laugh when Grandpa used to rub our bare feet against his beard. Your father and I love hearing the stories of the places your Grandmother and Grandfather worked at. Back then there were no computers and telephones were so different.
It’s so sad that the both of them are so young and so full of life with so much experience yet nobody wants to hire them because they are too old. It doesn’t matter that they are more versed in today’s technology than many of those who are in charge of hiring. Just about every ad you see they want “kids” out of college. Somehow I just see them sitting around feeding pigeons at the park or playing golf all day.
Okay, hold it right there! 60 is old? As it happens I am just shy of 60 and reject the ridiculous notion I or others in my age can’t work anymore or that it is time to “step aside.” Using the lead in above I am going to tackle the issue of the “older worker” and the difficulty they face in today’s job market.
One of the concerns employers have is that an older worker will only stay about three to five years and retire after investing time to train you. Having looked at many resumes I can’t begin to tell you how rare it is that people in all age brackets stay at one job for over three years. While I have not done any statistical research as to what age group stays on the job for the longest period of time, I think it is safe to say a person near retirement age looking for a new job is any more likely to stay a shorter period of time than a younger worker.
Another issue that becomes a very big stumbling block to overcome is compensation. Experience costs more but often time brings more. Depending on the major and the school a college graduate without experience may very well command the same starting salary. The difference is that with experience comes maturity which is complimented by a superior work ethic. Many sales or IT jobs require more than just 9-5 hours. When you are in your 20’s working late or working weekends or both is not something you are overly excited about.
It is true as we age our bodies do not function as well as when we were younger. Too many employers that may increase the cost of their employee health premiums. However, many older workers already have health insurance, etc. in place and may not need what the employer provides. In instances like that, an employer is gaining a valuable asset without increasing their insurance premiums. A person starting out in the workforce especially a young married couple will need benefits and would likely turn down a job if a full package is not provided.
Sadly the above are only a small part of the reason older workers are not hired. If you look at professional sports, an athlete is considered old if they are over 30. The time clock on their career is ticking. Our society has become conditioned due to the above that people in my age bracket are viewed as almost obsolete.
If you are denied a job based on your age or suspect you were denied due to your age you should contact your local labor office or consult a legal professional who specializes in employment law, your State Human Rights Commission, or an organization such as AARP.
To give yourself an edge in defeating stereotypes and prejudice, you have to sell the person you are sitting in front of that your age is just a number. Be sure to have highlights of your accomplishments on your resume. Don’t be afraid to be very emphatic that you have the skills the company is looking for and that your experience benefits them. Fight the negativity you sense they are expressing about your age with all the benefits they are getting by hiring you.