5 Quick Tips For Fighting Age Discrimination

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

Despite its illegality, age discrimination still occurs during the hiring process, and if you are an older worker, being proactive is the best way to ensure you get fair treatment. It is important to stay positive and focus on your strengths during your job search. Here are five quick tips to ensure age discrimination doesn't keep you from getting the job you deserve.

1. Know Your Rights

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against those age 40 or older when making hiring decisions. Prospective employers cannot ask about your age or for other information that might signal that you are an older worker. Keep an eye out for signs of discrimination, and refuse to answer questions that might make you a target. Take a close look at your resume, and make sure it doesn't include any references to your age or stage of life. If you see open signs of age discrimination at any point during the hiring process, call the organization out, and consult a human resources specialist or lawyer, if necessary, to assert your rights.

2. Focus on the Positive

Although it's good to know your rights regarding age discrimination, it's also a good idea to expect the best. Make sure you present your strengths instead taking a defensive attitude. You need to sell yourself to get hired, so let employers know what a great asset you'd be to their organizations. As an older worker, you likely have maturity and wisdom that younger workers might lack. You have also had more time to acquire knowledge and fine-tune your skills. Feel free to brag a little during your interviews — having years of industry experience is an important selling point.

3. Keep Skills Up to Date

Some age discrimination takes place because employers are worried that older workers lack technology skills. Avoid fitting that stereotype by staying up to date on all the ways technology relates to your industry. Use technology in your day-to-day life. Maintain professional social media accounts. Take a course if necessary to build your competency.

4. Take Advantage of Recommendations

More years of work experience provides more reference possibilities. Take advantage of your longer work history by providing exceptional letters of recommendation that share your strengths. Encourage your references to share your abilities to work well with people of all ages as well as the depth and breadth of your skills and knowledge. This will help dispel any worries potential employers might have about your age.

5. Show Your Enthusiasm

Every organization wants workers who bring enthusiasm and energy to the office each day. Show these traits at job interviews. Just because you have a lot of experience, it doesn't mean that you can't bring excitement to a new position. One of the best ways to fight age discrimination is by simply showing the hiring team your potential and how much you look forward to making a positive contribution to the business after you are hired.

Counter age discrimination during your job search by being aware of your rights, showing off your strengths and keeping your technology skills sharp. Never share your age with prospective employers, and consult professional help if you feel that you have been discriminated against.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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    One reason why companies prefer younger workers is that the health care insurance premiums are more for older workers.

  • Zhinasha Wallace
    Zhinasha Wallace

    that is true you should do the right thing

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @David Hutton sure do hear your frustration. 5 to 7 years is just a guideline. If you have more than that, by all means apply. If you have less than that but feel that you are qualified in all other aspects, apply. The job postings are simply guidelines for the positions - not a do or die. They need to put something out there so they get all parties involved and they go over what they need in the new hire. Sometimes it seems crazy when you see a posting that says we need a PhD but we are only willing to pay $10/hr. Seriously?! So just take the qualifications with a grain of salt and apply for a position if you feel that you are qualified. Honestly there isn't a clear cut way to get around the age question. You put down the jobs that you have worked - they know. Most online apps will ask for the year you graduated and you can't proceed until you input it. And @David Hutton - most job apps end with the equal opportunity statement as that's a requirement. The bottom line here folks is - if you are qualified for the position then apply. If you don't hear back then you move on but at least you applied and tried. It's better than reading a job posting and not even making an attempt to get your foot in the door by applying. Most companies are not going to find a job seeker who has everything that they are looking for. But if you get scared away and never even attempt to apply - well, game over.


    What's Wrong With This Picture ? Facility:Corporate Office
    Relocation Provided: No
    Education Required: Juris Doctor
    Experience Required: 5 - 7 Years


    Then at The End it Says ("Ruefully") We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or..... local protected class" . Ok, Got it !


    Now, ask yourself this question : Which Part of This Classification can you relate to any of their "Non-Discriminatory" practices ? Answer : Only Age ! ! ! So why Only between 5-7 Years ??? Why not 5-8 Years ? Are they saying "we want you to have at Least 5 years experience but we Do Not want you to have more than 7" ? So they do not want too much experience ? Is that what they mean ? Answer : No, That is NOT what they mean ! They instead mean : "we know that the age of the average of the average Graduate is 31 so we know your age will be below 40" Additionally, How do they know that 5 years will be enough experience ? And why on Earth would they not want someone who has more experience than 7 years ? Why is this a detriment ? This is no more than a "subversion" of the Rules, an attempt to evade the Statute.

  • Joanne Graham
    Joanne Graham

    I have been working with the Special Needs population for 30 years. I have lived all aspects of what working with the population entails, including changing diapers of male students over 16 years off age (physically grown men and I am not a nurse) to teaching feeding skills to those capable. I have been told that my interviews were wonderful and all were impressed

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @David Weidman thanks for your comment. It is true that there are times when you can't get around the age question such as HS graduation date or college date. If there is a job that is of real interest to you, try checking around for another way to get your resume into the company. Maybe you know someone who works there and can get your resume into the hiring manager's hands. Or maybe you even know the hiring manager and can send your resume directly to him/her. I totally agree that age should not be a factor but sadly I am in the minority here. It is also true that age discrimination is hard to fight or to prove. @Craig Langaster thanks for your comment. The question back to you is - "how do they know what your ethnicity is?" One big way to fight it is to not post your photo on any of your job seeking accounts. Just list your skills and experience and see what happens.


    Too bad there are not any real tips for fighting racial discrimination. I get that with the age discrimination.

  • David Weidman
    David Weidman

    I totally agree with the previous comments when it comes to filling out your application on a specific company job site. Really? Who cares when I graduated high school? The potential employer does because they can assume you were approximately 17-18 years old when you graduated and determine your current age by filling in the years from then up to now. You also need to fill in the years you attended college/higher education. This information needs to be inputted or the application process will not continue. Your work experiences and skills should be what matters the most. They'll never say you were rejected because of age and send the same old canned response (if they send one at all) that “they have decided to continue their search for other candidates who better qualify for this role." Really?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Chris H - sadly the President doesn't really have anything to do with the hiring process that companies use. If he did, Pres Obama would have taken care of it a long time ago. Of course you would always tweet our new Pres and see if you get any type of response. What do you have to lose? Companies just determine what they will or will not accept in a new hire and then beat the bushes for that one ideal. @Robin W it would be great if companies could get a tax credit every time they hire someone over 40 but then you would hear the cry of those under 40 being discriminated against due to age. There is no win-win here. Thanks for your description of the 1 way videos. Yes they are starting to gain momentum in their use. Personally I think that they are terrible - especially if you are a person who is shy or who just can't excel in such an impersonal environment. Time will tell how effective this particular type of interview will be. @Dino B - yes they do ask for graduation year and, on some applications, you must input that date before you can continue on. Companies make sure that they cover their basis on this, too. You would think that companies would be sued right and left over this but they aren't. Sadly it's the way of the job hunting world today. All you can do is keep applying. All the best.

  • Dino  B.
    Dino B.

    Lots of jobs ask what year did you graduate is another way to see how old you are since they can't ask you your age

  • Robin W.
    Robin W.

    Another new technique that is being used are called 1 sided video interviews where the employers send a link and you use a video to answer preset questions. It then goes back to the managers who view them and decide if they want to see you or not. Seems like another new method to prescreen out candidates if they don't look good on a video they are eliminated. But, to all out there, I've been laid off from major companies 3 times in the past 10 years. I did manage to get other jobs. The last job was a contract. They hired me almost on the spot. The contract ended and now I am back on the market. I've gotten flat rejections, I've also had interviews, and from Nov. 2016 to now I have applied to 120 jobs. I've had 5 on-site interviews. 3-4 agent interviews and some phone interviews also. Just getting on-site is a lot of work, because there are well over 100 applicants for each job where I live. (Connecticut). My advice, keep trying and keep all options open. Make sure you prep for all interviews and look good when you get there and have your people skills ready. Many of the interviews now include multiple people. You have to impress and show what you bring to the table. Be ready for questions, and answer honestly and unrehearsed. Best of luck to all!!

  • Robin W.
    Robin W.

    How about a tax credit to companies to hire unemployed, or workers over 40 years. That may get them moving. I agree with the Chris H. below. I was surprised the new job applications ask about medical and one even asked age range!

  • CHRIS H.
    CHRIS H.

    It would be appropriate if Trump, who is more than seventy, would be willing to dictate that age discrimination under any guise was illegal, and stick to that. I doubt that he will, but it would be appropriate for him to do so.

  • Alan M.
    Alan M.

    Smiling increases your face value.

  • Laura R.
    Laura R.



    It is difficult to fight age discrimination when on the employment application and resume, employers are asking for the date and year of graduation for high school and college.

  • Haydelina R.
    Haydelina R.

    I can definitely relate!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Steven F thanks for the comment. It is true that it would probably cost a pretty penny to fight an age discrimination suit unless you can find a great lawyer at a low price. And, what are the expected results? Thanks for the tips. It's what we say all of the time - short, sweet and to the point. Then, in the interview, sell, sell, sell! Thank you.

  • Steven F.
    Steven F.

    Having been through an age discrimination case, unless you have a few hundred thousand dollars you don't want, don't waste your time thinking about legal protection. As an older worker, one needs to keep firmly in mind that you are starting with points against you. The solution is to make sure that your resume is clear about what you can contribute and vague on anything that makes you look old. Once you get the interview,ignore their look of disgust and get right into what you can contribute. The tricks are to get the interview and sell your capabilities including how you experience makes you less likely to lose time on wrong answers.

  • Ralph C.
    Ralph C.

    Good, sound advice. Thank You.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Suzette J. thanks for your comment. I have never heard about this. Did you ask what happens if you don't complete it? I think I would look around for an unemployment lawyer and see if you can't get a free consultation to ask about this. I can't answer whether it's legal or not. I would think that it wouldn't be but then again, the agencies should know what is legal or not and whether their survey is within the law.

  • Suzette J.
    Suzette J.

    I have recently met in person with a recruiter at an employment agency. After the interview, the recruiter asked me to complete a "voluntary" survey to determine if the recruiting agency could recieve benefits when placing me. One question asked if I was under 40 yrs old. Others were about Federal or State welfare or monetary support (SSI, food stamps but not Social Security). This is not the first time I had the opportunity in the past 2 yrs to complete this survey with Employment agencies in the State of California. Would you recommend job seekers complete this type of survey or not?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jane C thanks for your comment. So sorry that you are having a tough time finding a position. It's hard when we are stay-at-home Mom's for many years and then try to get back into the workforce. Technically, you shouldn't put any more than ten year's worth of employment on your resume. I don't think that your job from the 80's is giving you any lift when it comes to getting your resume in front of the hiring manager. What I would do is find a good recruiter who specializes in putting HR applicants into positions. Or, if that fails, use a temp agency to get your foot in the door. I would not put on my cover letter that I wasn't working because I was watching my grandson as that totally dates you. They know that you are a Grandma so they can figure that you are at least 50. Remember, the cover letter isn't about you - it's about what you can do for the company. Honestly, a temp agency is probably the best way to go. You may not get the exact job that you want on the first go-round but it has been my experience that if I stick with one agency, they will find a great position for me. Using a temp agency I got experience as a legal secretary in both criminal and family law as well as worked as an underwriter for a mortgage company - all without the benefit of previous experience. Give it a try and let me know how it works. All the best.

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