Four Ways to Avoid Age Discrimination on the Job Hunt

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In 1967, Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits employers from making hiring decisions based upon the age of an applicant. It protects workers who are at least 40 years old from being denied employment opportunities solely due to their age. However, this act hasn't prevented workplace discrimination from existing. Taking simple, precautionary steps can help more mature applicants defend themselves from being the target of such instances of discrimination.

Recruiters often have age-related biases that trickle over into their hiring decisions. Although ageism can refer to any age group, it most often affects older generations. An article on Careerbuilder's The Hiring Site, "Ageism in the Workplace: What You Know About Older Workers Is Probably Wrong," details the misconceptions that hiring managers may harbor about mature applicants.

Without any evidence, a recruiter may decide that older individuals are baffled by new technology or that they lack ambition or energy. They may feel that mature applicants will retire in a few years, thereby seeing it as a waste of resources to train them. They don’t realize that their attitudes toward older individuals can apply to all age groups. For instance, there is no guarantee that a 20-something employee will stay at the company for more than a year or two either.

Regardless of a hiring manager’s attitude toward mature applicants, it is possible to avoid age discrimination during a job hunt by following four easy rules.

  1. When applying, omit dates from the application that could indicate age. This includes dates of high school and college attendance or graduation, as well as children’s ages. A recruiter can easily estimate an applicant's age from these details. In the same vein, do not include employment history older than 10 years unless the experience pertains to a particular position.
  2. Be cautious when including hobbies on a resume. This information is not needed unless it pertains to the open position, and it can lead to age discrimination if the hobby is one associated with an older applicant, such as crocheting or embroidery.
  3. During the interview, confront age discrimination face-to-face in order to get the job. To keep the recruiter from making a negative snap judgment based on age, try wearing modern clothing.
  4. Finally, exude confidence and energy during the interview, stressing your qualifications for the position. If you're an older applicants you should mention your intention to stay at the company long term and that your maturity is a benefit, not a detriment, to the organization.

Regardless of your age, there is never a guarantee of being hired for a particular job. However, these tips will minimize some of the instant rejection that age discrimination can cause, helping increase your chances of landing a job in the long run.

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