There’s no doubt ageism in the workplace still exists. It’s up to employers to ensure they are not using a person’s age as a reason not to hire them.
It’s illegal to discriminate against a candidate due to their age. But regardless, ageism still occurs in some circles and it can be hard to completely prevent because in some instances employers may not even be aware they’re doing it – it might be subconscious.
So how can I avoid it?
There are some elements to the ways in which people perceive you that might be beyond your control, but there are other elements that are within your control. Here at ALRA, we’ve encountered countless candidates over the years that believed they were experiencing discrimination because of their age. In certain cases, this was likely the case, but other times, a few adjustments in approach and attitude made a huge difference.
For example, tweaking the way in which the candidate prepares to be interviewed. This might include, undertaking more thorough research into the company or an edit to their CV to make crucial experience more prominent may make all the difference. Building the confidence of the candidate who feels they have been rejected as a result of ageism is a crucial factor.
We all experience rejection – young and old – but resilience is key
Harry Potter was famously knocked back by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury gave it the green light. The lesson here is don’t be afraid of rejection. Perseverance and resilience are key.
If you’re an employee in an older age bracket that’s been struggling to find a job, it’s best not to tell yourself that it’s purely because of your age. Instead, acknowledge that sure, unconscious (or outright) bias does exist, but instead focus on controlling the many elements that you do have control over. Every single one of us – young or old – can always improve how we apply for jobs and the way in which we interview for them.
Take ownership over tackling the problem to the very best of your ability, as opposed to adopting a defeatist attitude and psyching yourself out of the possibility that the right job for you could be just around the corner.
Some companies are actively combating ageism
The other good news is that there are many companies out there making a concerted effort not to be ageist. Here’s a beautiful article from SmartCompany about the oldest employee at Bunnings – a 91 year old man named Harold who by all accounts is doing an excellent job and is both loved and valued by his colleagues. What’s more – the number of likes on Bunnings’ post about Harold (over 26,000) shows that making a concerted effort to hire people of all ages is also great for a company’s brand and the community’s perception of them.