Age Discrimination: Am I too old for this job?
People will often ask ‘could I be too old for this job? I almost always respond by asking;
• What is the job?
• What qualifications are specified?
• How many years experience is required?
If you think about the above questions, you will clearly see that there are so many variables that come into play; there is no definitive answer to the question.
In addition, you can add in the fact that the more senior the position is, the more experience will be required or expected.
In a very general sense I believe that the bigger the company the less likely it is that an older person will be selected. The reason being that the larger the company the more likely it is that there will be carefully selected guidelines set down with job specification clearly defined. While age cannot be written into the requirements it still does not stop people from thinking. Why is it that almost every fast food, music playing burger bar or restaurants always have good looking guys and girls working the tables? Age will not be written into the job specification, but someone was clearly thinking about it.
If you’re an older person and on a job hunt I would suggest you think about the old saying; “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and in this case it can be very true.
Simply put the older the interviewer the more likely it is that he/she will hire someone up to or on or about their own age, without a second thought. It is more likely, therefore, that a smaller company that is owner managed, or where the MD or “Boss” is directly involved in the recruitment process would be a better target for the older person. The smaller company will have the latitude in the selection process where a very large company may not.
In other situations a reasonable amount of common sense will help you save a lot of wasted time. Carefully review the job on offer and make a rational decision without getting overly moralistic about it. If you honestly feel that “some young person” is going to walk away with the job, then don’t apply and save yourself the annoyance of being refused. I have seen old guys getting jobs, where you would not expect and younger people being turned down. There is just no accurate method of measuring a likely result. As time goes by, I believe that attitudes to seniors working or returning to the workforce are becoming much more tolerant.
This brings me to a point that raises the hackles of many people when say it, but I do believe it to be true. When writing your C.V. at the end, enter your Personal Details which would include your Nationality, Date of birth and Status, married or single. Most people I suggest this to disagree and refuse to do
Before you complain about me calling people old guys, let me add I am one of these old guys myself. So if you are a “senior” or a “mature” candidate or just an old boy/girl there are areas of work where you can most certainly be a successful applicant.
My view is that whether you like it or not, laws or no laws, most employers will have a few preferences in their mind and age, sex or Nationality is often among those preferences. By declaring these facts on your C.V. you can get yourself ruled out at the very start of the process. Save yourself time, money, travel, expenses and most of all your hopes of securing a position. You can then be assured that any invitations you do get to interview will be real and genuine opportunities.
As a rule, the more senior or where extensive experience is a requirement then an older person with experience or a particular expertise may well succeed where a younger person would not.
In contract or consultancy work or in projects assignments, again age is not usually a critical factor. You will be judged by what you have done in the past and the fact that the work is on a fixed term contract means you are not married to the company until retirement.
Most importantly, if you are an older person, doesn’t act like one. Dress smart, ladies don’t usually have a problem, but gentlemen, please review your wardrobe, good haircut, clean shaven and dare I say it, special attention to the nose and ears. Sounds silly, but it’s often ignored and can be a source of irritation to others.
Don’t continually refer to when you ‘were in charge’ or ‘young people now days won’t listen’ or ‘things have changed so much,’ etc. Keep yourself well informed, study up to date information in your sector and be prepared to give new ideas. If you’re an older and more experienced person, it will be expected that you would be creative and sound experience.
Walk in and out of interviews sprightly, shake hand firmly and give a smiling introduction. If you wear glasses wear them, or don’t wear them, but do not continually put them on and take them off.
In short, Don’t Act Your Age.
Further information about the author, Colm Cavey can be seen below and also at: www.jobdoctor.ie
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