You might have thought that age discrimination had diminished after decades of efforts to at least reduce, if not eliminate, it. Think again! Evidently age discrimination is alive and well–online.
I have to say that this whole ageism issue makes NO sense to me. Any company with real business savvy and foresight ought to be able to see that older employees offer a wealth of experience and expertise their business could benefit from. The stereotypes that company management has long held about those older employees have also been shot down significantly over the years–proven to be basically as full of holes as Swiss cheese.
Why would any smart company–one that wants to operate a thriving, long-term sustainable business–deliberately ignore a substantial resource it could easily tap into?
Maybe that’s the short answer: There must be a lot of non-savvy, non-smart companies out there–which is to say, management teams/senior executive leaders and/or boards of directors who willfully ignore what they don’t want to see.
(Side note: If a tree survives for a long time and is still thriving, that’s considered a great accomplishment. As a productive professional, senior executive, etc., why should you be viewed as past your prime because you’ve entered your 5th decade or beyond?)
No, technology per se isn’t deliberately fueling age discrimination in the work place. It can’t–it’s not a person. However, people use technology, and that use can be detrimental to your professional opportunities and career success. One clear and disturbing discussion of this can be found in a recent article from AARP, titled “Age Discrimination Goes Online.”
According to the article, age discrimination is “thriving, with 20,857 such complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016 alone. As more jobs are advertised and applied for online, evidence is mounting that it is easier to discriminate against older workers.”
Too many employers are apparently willing to put profit above ethics (not to mention borderline illegal actions).
If you see a job posting specifying an age range that tops out at 40, you can bet you won’t get a look-in if you’re over 50. That’s overt discrimination and maybe much less common in today’s EEOC environment. However, what about less overt–even subtle–age discrimination in the pre-screening process?
For example, as the AARP article notes, “many online applications use drop-down menus that only go back to the 1980s, effectively screening out anyone who graduated or had work experience before those dates.”
One aspect of this almost made me chuckle. Apparently some job listings stipulate they prefer people who are “digital natives” (meaning they’ve been familiar with computer use all their lives). This could preclude consideration of job candidates over the age of 40. However, this will only work for a while; eventually most if not all adults will fit that category. Of course, that’s not much encouragement if you’re excluded now.
When you run up against ageism in your job search or career management, you need to take stock of the obstacles you face, what’s stacking the odds against you, and any other factor that could get in the way of your successful job search. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to do that! You need to establish and maintain a strong support team. You need to assess your situation realistically and determine what actions to take, so you don’t spin your wheels on fruitless efforts.
In other words, you need to get a head start to overcome the challenges and conclude a successful job search.