How Do You Fight Age Discrimination?
Dear J.T. & Dale: How does one fight age discrimination? I've been out of work for a year and have had five five-minute interviews. I'm in my mid-60s and can't afford to retire. How can I fight age discrimination, if that's what this is? - Robert DALE: You and I, Robert, are old enough to remember when "discriminate" was not a pejorative word. In fact, advertisers boasted that their products were designed for "the discriminating buyer." The Latin root of "to discriminate" means "to distinguish between." So you'll understand my mantra about the workplace: Hiring IS discrimination. Employers have all sorts of preferences/prejudices when it comes to hiring --some prefer young "blank slate" employees, others prefer veteran performers; there are those who hire only MBAs, and those who refuse to hire MBAs; on and on. If we could truly know the mindset of employers, we could assign a Discrimination Index to every person in the job market. If you did that, you'd be grateful for how LITTLE discrimination you actually face. J.T.: The information you sent us is so impressive that I don't see why you aren't finding work. Something doesn't compute. There has to be some other factor at play. The problem might be that you are:
- Offering expertise that is saturated in the market;
- Overpricing yourself compared with others who have the same skills; or,
- Packaging and presenting yourself in a way that doesn't make hiring managers feel you still can perform as well you as you have in the past (for instance, fearing that your techniques are outdated).