5 Quick Tips For Fighting Age Discrimination

John Krautzel
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Despite its illegality, age discrimination still occurs during the hiring process, and if you are an older worker, being proactive is the best way to ensure you get fair treatment. It is important to stay positive and focus on your strengths during your job search. Here are five quick tips to ensure age discrimination doesn't keep you from getting the job you deserve.

1. Know Your Rights

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against those age 40 or older when making hiring decisions. Prospective employers cannot ask about your age or for other information that might signal that you are an older worker. Keep an eye out for signs of discrimination, and refuse to answer questions that might make you a target. Take a close look at your resume, and make sure it doesn't include any references to your age or stage of life. If you see open signs of age discrimination at any point during the hiring process, call the organization out, and consult a human resources specialist or lawyer, if necessary, to assert your rights.

2. Focus on the Positive

Although it's good to know your rights regarding age discrimination, it's also a good idea to expect the best. Make sure you present your strengths instead taking a defensive attitude. You need to sell yourself to get hired, so let employers know what a great asset you'd be to their organizations. As an older worker, you likely have maturity and wisdom that younger workers might lack. You have also had more time to acquire knowledge and fine-tune your skills. Feel free to brag a little during your interviews — having years of industry experience is an important selling point.

3. Keep Skills Up to Date

Some age discrimination takes place because employers are worried that older workers lack technology skills. Avoid fitting that stereotype by staying up to date on all the ways technology relates to your industry. Use technology in your day-to-day life. Maintain professional social media accounts. Take a course if necessary to build your competency.

4. Take Advantage of Recommendations

More years of work experience provides more reference possibilities. Take advantage of your longer work history by providing exceptional letters of recommendation that share your strengths. Encourage your references to share your abilities to work well with people of all ages as well as the depth and breadth of your skills and knowledge. This will help dispel any worries potential employers might have about your age.

5. Show Your Enthusiasm

Every organization wants workers who bring enthusiasm and energy to the office each day. Show these traits at job interviews. Just because you have a lot of experience, it doesn't mean that you can't bring excitement to a new position. One of the best ways to fight age discrimination is by simply showing the hiring team your potential and how much you look forward to making a positive contribution to the business after you are hired.

Counter age discrimination during your job search by being aware of your rights, showing off your strengths and keeping your technology skills sharp. Never share your age with prospective employers, and consult professional help if you feel that you have been discriminated against.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Total Home Windows and Doors

    Wow! Thanks for this useful advice

  • Jacek Balcerzak
    Jacek Balcerzak


  • Noreen Pace
    Noreen Pace

    Well, I have been hired several times to positions I have had to accept due to the need for a job. I have had no training at all, at any of these positions. I have been made to do the work of at least 2 fulltime people for 1 person part-time pay. I have just resigned my 4th position in 7 years. As a master's prepared nurse - I have had no desk to sit at, have been made to sit on a fold up coffee table, consultations to be faxed were never faxed, Social service workers without a license were given 40 hours a week work with 5-6 clients, I was given 15 to 25 in a 100 mile radius. Had to do teaching for all unlicensed personnel, had to use my own phone, less than the minimal rate for gas reimbursement, know the rules for all DCF and DDS clients, do on-call for 220 hours per month for 18 hours of pay! JUST HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED TO ADAPT? MY graduate degree is worth nothing. But it cost about 70,000. I am a worker and do a good job but the volumes of work and poor equipment - no printer for a month, etc can really hamper productivity. The last straw was the complete and total unwillingness of a psychiatrist to work with nurses at all. He would not take an email or a phone call. I never met him in 19 months on the job! He went totally off to every director in the facility because I emailed him about two profoundly challenged individuals with very problem behaviors. I honestly think this is professional abuse and would love to know where to go about it!

  • patricia t.
    patricia t.

    I agree this is the world we live in, we adapt or we die!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @David N thanks for your comment. Can hear the frustration for sure. This is our world today - sad but true. The interviewer probably wasn't born when you lived the high life and would never understand how it was. But, he is your way to get your foot in the door of a company. When he asks a question, answer it - even if it's already on your resume. He wants to hear you talk about your career as he's trying to determine if you would be a good fit. You can ask him anything you wish but he doesn't have to answer it - while, if you are interested in the position, you do have to answer the questions. Sometimes the company doesn't want copious amounts of experience but want someone who has experience yet still can be molded to fit in with the company. If you go into an interview and sort of look down your nose at the interviewer because he wasn't even born yet when you had all of your adventures, you are not going to get anywhere. Millennials do encompass a very large part of our workforce today. Chances are that you will run into the same scenario over and over again.

  • David N.
    David N.

    This is all fine and good if your whole life has been confined to a cubicle. I worked on the 1996 Olympics, won a grammy in 1992 on a project with REM, I toured with Aero Smith on the Pump Tour and won the Best Heavy Metal Video award from MTV. So how do i get around that? Anyone can get on the internet and look up the Pump Tour and find the dates on that, I worked on 3 Olympics. The interviewer asks "which ones" in genuine interest, and what do I say "None of your business"? Most of these interviewers weren't even born when I did a lot of this stuff so do i get to dig into their back ground and asked pointed questions? One would think an person with copious amounts of experience would be prime for the job

  • RANDY H.
    RANDY H.

    It's unbelievable how it is out there and there are enough online resources (e.g., year an attorney was first admitted to the bar) that they can figure out your age without even talking to you. It comes up everywhere. All this sounds nice but it hasn't worked for me in the real world.

  • Robert M.
    Robert M.

    I have to agree With Egars comment regarding the recruitment agency's.

  • Dorcas Fikile K.
    Dorcas Fikile K.

    Qualifications does not brings promotion at working place but the effectiveness of your self ,adaptability and respect of your work and others.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jeff Sloane thanks ever so much for your comment. So awesome that you took the company to task and won! I hope that the settlement will make a healthy retirement fund for you. It's nice to know, also, that the system really works. True it's hard to go through arbitration and feel like everything about you is under a microscope but to win - that is sweet! Happy that you found another job. I hope others will read this and know that, if you continue fighting, you can win.

  • Jeff Sloane
    Jeff Sloane

    I worked in IT sales for 22 years and had an excellent track record. A few years ago I worked for a software company and was consistently one of their top sales guys in the 4 years I worked for them. My last sales manager simply did not like me (I think I made more money than he did and he was simply not qualified for his role) put me on a performance plan which I beat and he immediately put me on a 2nd plan and started putting junk in my personnel file and then fired me. I had filed a complaint with HR and they csme back with a self serving report so I sued for age discrimination. I kept meticulous records on my accomplishments and those of my peers which helped my attorney enormously. I got an extremely low ball offer to go away and I refused. My attorney and I went thru the state Labor Dept Process and after 10 months of little progress i asked my atty to notify the company that we were pulling the case from the state labor dept and were going to file in Superior court for a hairy audacious amount. The company came back a week later and a week after that we settled for a sum that surprised my attorney (it was good). Be advised, however, that in any settlement you should have a mutual non disparagement clause so that neither party can make nasty comments about the other. That said there will be quiet background checks with previous colleagues by prospective employers and you may lose an opportunity but I did land another position.

  • Tomek Markowski
    Tomek Markowski

    I fight it because I do not like that someone discriminates against

  • Tomek Markowski
    Tomek Markowski

    Once someone said that knowledge is the key to success

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Koni R thanks for your comment. So sorry to hear what you are going through. Have you tried going in a different direction? Taking what you have learned and putting it in a different environment - such as taking your management skills and applying for a management position with a non-health type company? Try going through a temp agency if you can and see where you can use those skills other than a medical facility. You have so much to offer after 41 years in the field. What about being a quality specialist for coding? I see ads all of the time for Quality Assurance Analysts to proof read transcripts from a medical transcriber. Something to consider?

  • Koni R.
    Koni R.

    As always the suggestions are great,and do not work. The term over qualified is just code for to old. It is not a matter of money,as the management is presuming how much I will insist upon. My next attempt will to be to offer to work as an non paid intern,giving the practice the benefit of my license. Unless a position opens with a Doctor who knows me or a direct referral from one of my former vendor's,I may just be done with a field I have loved for 41 years.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Pete T. thanks for your comment. It is true that applications require dates and that sort of hurts when you have been in the job market for many years. Applications will get you when they ask your HS graduation date. Colleges - not so much so many working adults waited until later in life to get their degree(s). Any application requesting DOB is illegal. They are not allowed, by law, to ask for that. I know they still do it and will continue until someone calls them out on it. All we can do is keep trying. Personally, if I was looking for a job, I would be going through recruiters. They would know me; know my age and be able to present me in a positive light - in spite of my advanced age. @John B. don't give up hope. Jobs are there. I don't know if this age discrimination will ever turn around. @Pete T - maybe it is wishful thinking that I indulge in. I still believe that, in time, the pendulum is going to swing again and the millennials will be crying about not being able to get hired while the more mature workers will be settling back into their new positions. I am always the optimist!

  • Pete T.
    Pete T.

    Nancy, I'm with Keith on this issue. Your followup on 4/7/17 states that things will "swing back". Well, they certainly might, but since I've seen no evidence that age discrimination and the propensity to hire cheap, short-term labor has gotten anything but worse in the last year or two, the only way I see to be as optimistic as you are is to indulge in wishful thinking. I'm actually finding it increasingly rare to see online job application sites that do not require at least one of the following dates: DOB, degree, and employment start and end. One's only choices are to clearly reveal one's age, falsify a date (or lie on the "oath" that the employment history is "complete and accurate"), or not submit an application. Every one of those options is unacceptable to me.

  • John B.
    John B.

    I have also seen age discrimination. It seems if your over 60 you have nothing to offer anymore. I'm actually amazed companies think this way. You say not to talk about age but on most applications they will ask you what year you graduated high school. It doesn't take a genius to figure old your an older person by that date. Years of experience you bring to the table and they can't get past your age.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. Maybe it's best to just ask the question - upfront, with the recruiter or even with HR of the hiring company. Ask them if they are going to consider a more mature candidate or if they are looking for millennials. Technically this is not a good question but it sure would save you a lot of time, money and aggravation! @Judith H. did the recruiters give you a reason for dropping you? I certainly wouldn't be putting a positive spin on them in any social media sites. Maybe buyer beware! The sad part is that most of us can't afford to hire a lawyer and take them to court for age discrimination. Even @Gregory B. they never said it was due to your age - only that they think you would be bored and would leave as soon as something better came along. In that case, just try to reassure them that you are in it for the long haul - as long as it's a position that you can tolerate for the long haul and a salary that will pay the bills. All we can do is just keep on keeping on.

  • Mrs.Krina M.
    Mrs.Krina M.

    Good information.Be confident.

  • Judith H.
    Judith H.

    You can't do much about discrimination. I was asked how ,any years I plan to work. This is illegal but who would I report this too and what would be done! The recruiting company dropped me when I told them this occurred.

  • Diane S.
    Diane S.

    This has happened to me so many times. You are looking for work so consulting an attorney is kind of out of the question because of the cost. Many times I have had a phone interview that went great but then they bring you in for an in person interview and you can just see it on their faces. This is so frustrating!!


    You can only hide your age for so long. I have gotten past a string of phone interviews over a dozen times with companies that tell me I am their leading candidate and schedule me for a face to face interview. Even though I am very physically fit (fitter than the people interviewing me) am dressed appropriately, and prepared to answer any objections the face to face interviews always start with "Thank you for coming in. After going back over your qualifications and references we realize this position is below your skill/knowledge level and we don't believe you would be happy with the position or the salary we are prepared to offer". End of interview. Any effort to get them to open their minds and see the value I bring to their company falls on deaf ears. Once they see my age the door is slammed shut. I just keep at it hoping to find an interviewer/company with the foresight to see that I can do more for their bottom line than someone 20 years younger than me.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Keith Enste thanks for your comment. I sure do sense your frustration. It is true that this advice is a bit generic but it still rings true. It can be harder to get a job when you are at a more advanced age but not impossible. Slowly but surely companies are finding that hiring a younger person to save a few bucks isn't always the best way to go. They are finding that it's best to cough up a few more dollars and hire someone with skills along with maturity and a great work ethic. It's going to take time for things to swing back but they will. It won't be like it was 10 years ago but it will happen. We just have to be ready to strike when it does. @Debora L. totally agree. I do the same thing - check out the company on their website or on LinkedIn, etc. and all I see are happy smiling faces of 20 somethings! But don't let that deter you. Apply for the position anyhow. You never know. The hiring manager may be tired of dealing with millennials and be ready for someone with more maturity as well as skills and work ethic to come in! @Heidi H. sadly this is the way our world today. Everything is around social media. Look at our new President! Companies actually do look at our social media. Even if you don't send them a link to your Facebook or Instagram pages, they will search for you if they are interested. It's why we stress all of the time to think about what you put on your social media sites and how a hiring company would view them. No way to get around this that I know of. If you don't give them a link to your social media, it makes them wonder what you are hiding! It's best to just clean up your social media pages and offer up the links when applying for the job. You know the old saying "if you can't beat them, you might as well join them!"

  • Debora L.
    Debora L.

    When you go look at the Company profile page of photos you rarely see anyone over the age of 40. After working for 40 years, learning early by my mistakes, you'd think these companies would appreciate a woman who no longer needs to take maternity/family leave or head to her children's soccer game. We're more focused, seasoned and have more time to devote to learn whatever technology required. Someone needs to come up with a Recruiting company specifically dealing with the older worker.

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