As workers over the age of 40 enter the job market they face an immense difficulty when competing for jobs against younger applicants. Age discrimination although illegal is rampant. This is particularly true for workers in their 40s and beyond who may be competing for jobs against applicants who are half their age. The challenge of getting an interview and ultimately a job is a formidable one for older workers.
The problem begins with age bias in the hiring process. Employers often prefer to hire younger candidates as they are more cost efficient and presumably more in tune with new technology and changes in the workplace. The implications are clear and older workers are seen as obsolete and given less consideration while younger workers are given more attention. As a result, older job seekers can have difficulty getting an interview in the first place.
Another issue is the language used in job postings. While it’s illegal for employers to post age discriminatory hiring criteria many job postings contain phrases that can apply to younger workers such as entry level or recent grads. Older applicants by contrast may be less likely to fit the desired criteria. As a consequence they may be excluded from ever getting the opportunity for an interview.
Compounding the challenge is the fact that older workers usually have longer lists of qualifications and experience. While this may seem like an advantage it can be a hindrance as employers may feel overwhelmed by too much information. Furthermore, employers often want someone who can hit the ground running, meaning they prefer someone who already knows the ropes and can take on more responsibility and tasks more quickly. For older applicants who may have less experience with new technology or fresh ideas keeping up with the work of half their age can be difficult.
Fortunately there are some ways older workers can increase their chances of getting an interview. First they should be aware of their rights in the hiring process and familiarize themselves with age discrimination laws. They should also network and use their contacts to their advantage. Additionally they should watch out for job postings that may be biased toward younger applicants. Finally they should emphasize their experience and skills when creating a resume, focusing on the areas that are relevant and up to date.
Ultimately, the age gap between older workers and younger applicants presents a challenging situation for those over 40. The bias that exists in the hiring process coupled with employer expectations for a job candidate’s experience can make it difficult for older workers to get an interview. However, by being aware of the potential obstacles and preparing accordingly older applicants can improve their chances of securing a job and advancing in their career.