Combating Age Discrimination, Young and Old

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Young and Old

Age discrimination is a reality in the current job market. It affects two vastly different groups:

  • Young – The young men and women graduating from college over the last five years have had it tough. In fact, this generation has the highest unemployment in the last fifty years. Age discrimination is rampant because this generation does not have the exact skills or experience employers are wanting.
  • Old – Ask anyone who is over fifty years of age and has been unemployed whether there is age discrimination in the job market. The answer will almost always be YES! Age discrimination is rampant because this generation is perceived as both not having kept their skills up to date and expecting to be paid at the higher end of the pay spectrum because of their experience.

Notice both groups battle age discrimination due to issues in employers’ perceptions of their skills and experience.

What is interesting is that both groups can use the same strategies to combat age discrimination.

It is all about demonstrating and not telling what you can do to solve your future employer’s problems.

Who you know and who knows you is critical!

The days of waiting for a position to be posted and then applying for it are over. More than at any time in history, personal relationships are paramount to your employment.

The issue is these two groups have different definitions of what constitutes a relationship.

If you are under 30, you likely define relationships in online terms. If you follow someone on Twitter, friend someone on Facebook, or are connected to someone on LinkedIn, you will likely say you have a relationship.

If you are over 50, you likely define relations in offline terms. If you have met someone in person (or at least talked to someone on the phone), you will likely say you have a relationship.

The problem is that today’s world requires both!

I serve an Austin based non-profit, Launch Pad Job Club, where I was asked recently by an over 50 job seeker if they need to be on Twitter. My answer was YES! They asked why. My response was that, if I hope to get a response from a recruiter, I will tweet to them. I will adapt to the communication medium that they are most comfortable with.

I was recently giving a workshop on the Multi-Generational Workplace and was asked by a millennial participant about the problems she gets into with her mother. She always texts her mother. I had explained that different generations need to adapt to each other. If she wants to develop relationships with someone over 50, she will likely need to talk to them.

Each group needs to adapt. You need to build relationships both online and offline.

Create a Platform

Creating a social media platform is key to demonstrating that you know your stuff and, therefore, battles age discrimination. You can now:

  • Attach work product to your LinkedIn profile. This could be presentations on SlideShare, PowerPoint slide decks, videos, sample documents of your work, links to code you have written, and just about anything that can be found on the Internet.
  • LinkedIn Publisher is now a platform that will be available for you to publish to anyone. This is an excellent way to demonstrate that you know your stuff.

Once you have established a platform , showing that you know your stuff, you need to promote, promote, and promote some more. You do this by connecting effectively on social media.

Each group has issues.

The younger you are, the less likely you will have work samples to demonstrate what you know. In that case, create them!

The older you are, the less likely you will want to promote and connect. It is not how we were raised. Get over it.

Overcoming Age Discrimination

If you want to overcome age discrimination, it is about targeting key employers and developing key relationships using both online and offline methods. Once the relationship is established, you need to be able to show them that you know your stuff.

Whether you are experiencing age discrimination at the beginning or at the end of your career, it is all about relationships!

Young and old photo via Shutterstock

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Personal Branding Blog The Personal Branding Blog is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel, offering branding and career advice from Dan Schawbel and his team of experts. The blog helps professionals build a powerful brand to remain competitive in the job market.

4 Reactions
  1. These are all great suggestions (thank you), but I feel some of the onus has to be placed on the employers themselves who discriminate. They need to put in the work to unlearn their in-built judgement.

  2. That’s right. The very reason that age discrimination exists is the fact that they are too reluctant to adjust. But if they are okay with technology, then it is easier to treat everyone on equal terms.

    • Part of why they may be reluctant to adjust might be because they’re in a deemed position of power, in a position to choose from a wide range of applicants. Their decisions do not affect them directly, unless they get sued, of course.