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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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Sharon C that is so very true - unfortunately. And there's not much that can be done but to input it. We have more senior job seekers who can't even apply to some of the positions because companies use a dropdown box to add your HS graduation date and it doesn't go down far enough - say it stops at 1985.

  • sharon c.
    sharon c.

    The newest way I have found that applications get around asking your age is asking when you graduated from HS, sneaky but no way of not answer :(

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Patricia E.P. thanks for your comment. Sadly it is true. They ask for your HS graduation date as a way to get around the age issue. Not much you can do in a case like that unless you know someone who works there and try to get your resume to the hiring manager through them. That's a long shot for sure but it's an option. On some applications, you have to click on a down arrow and then choose your graduation year. Some job seekers have complained that it doesn't go back far enough so that puts them out of the running. Not sure how companies get away with that since it's blatant age discrimination but they do.

  • Patricia E. P.
    Patricia E. P.

    What I have nocticed is that employers are now asking when you graduated from high school! That is another way for them to determine your age!! I refuse to apply to those jobs!

  • Ballu K.
    Ballu K.

    Hope to do my level best to help.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Thelma N all I can say is wow! And, of course, the main question is Why? Why do they want you on LinkedIn? Other companies can come along and snatch you up. LinkedIn is a personal choice unless your company is mandating that everyone have a LinkedIn account (don't think that they legally can). I agree with Brian S - that's insanity. Personally, I would take it down and see what happens but then that's me.

  • Brian S.
    Brian S.

    @Thelma N. -- That's insanity. Truly. "Hi, you should be grateful to have a job to begin with -- and furthermore we cropped out the heads from the Christmas party pix and created SEO-friendly LinkedIn profiles for each of you. No mention of anything before us is allowed. Enjoy!"

  • ADRIAN D.
    ADRIAN D.

    very useful and already been age discrimination

  • Thelma N.
    Thelma N.

    My current employer put my name and picture on LinkedIn without asking me. I have not added anything or connected with anyone. Can an employer do that? Everyone in the company was put in. We are all afraid to removed ourselves.

  • Patricia C.
    Patricia C.

    Thanks very useful information

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Glen L thanks for your comments. Sorry if you did not find this to be sound advice. Photographs are a judgment call to be sure. Not everyone uses LinkedIn, either. But most of us have some type of social media account and can be seen there - such as Facebook. The issue with the photograph on your resume is that it could open up a lawsuit if someone wanted to challenge it. Say you send in a resume, with a photo, but you do not get a call for an interview when you are absolutely sure that you are the best candidate for the job. Could the reason for silence be due to the photo you added? Maybe you didn't have the right "look" or some other arbitrary reason. This is why most companies do not want you to send a resume with a photo. They do not want to be put in a position where they have to defend their actions. Yes, they can view you on LinkedIn if you added a photo there - or any other social media site. But that's after they have vetted you - after they have decided that they might contact you for an interview. Again, sorry you didn't like the advice. All the best.

  • Glen L.
    Glen L.

    What is knowing your rights going to do for you? Confront them? Hell no....not sound advice.

  • Glen L.
    Glen L.

    Your perils of wisdom when it comes to NO PHOTOGRAPHS isn't up to date. How do you explain in LinkedIn that a photograph IS REQUIRED IF YOU WANT TO GET NOTICED! You claim it would be best to keep it off of your resume... I agree...however looks can get you an interview!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Marilyn Stowers thanks for your great comment. Sadly, ageism is alive. And, to make it even worse, many job applications require HS graduation date for you to continue applying for a position. If they gave you another option such as just submitting a resume, that would be great. Unfortunately, most companies today will have you fill out their applications which include start and completion dates.:-( Now that are NOT allowed to ask for your birth date. That is truly illegal. Wish there was a way around this but it doesn't seem to be. @Joseph D thanks for your comment. President Obama signed an executive order known as "ban the box". Not sure what will happen under the new White House. Personally, I would tell them upfront instead of waiting for them to do a background check. It's better to be honest than for them to come back and be upset because you didn't tell them. Just my two cents worth.

  • Marilyn S
    Marilyn S

    I was in my late 40's searching for employment and was receiving no interview calls. I spoke with a resume writer and they suggested not adding my graduation and employment dates, so we didn't. Then, the interview calls started rolling in! I'm not sure if the HR managers only looked at my resume and not my application but, it worked. Of coarse they seen my age when interviewed, but at least then I had a chance to talk to them about my qualifications and cheerful personality. This was a true eye opener. Age does matter and...hiring managers do discriminate. Now I'm 55 and my current company moved out of state, so I'm on the job search again. I sure hope the same works for me as it did before? Why do we even have to worry about how to hide our age??? If it's illegal for employers to discriminate, then why do they ask our birthdates, graduation dates, employment dates, etc.. on applications? It should not be a WAY AROUND it. It should be included as discrimination, illegal and taken off of applications. You know, there's enough people 40 years and over to petition this huge problem. Do you think we would have a winning chance?

  • Joseph  D.
    Joseph D.

    I'm really not happy with the background check it's hard being a fellon an get a good job.im a nice person an haven't had any luck getting a fair shake.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Frederick Page unfortunately there is no way to get around it. If you have to input a date, then put it there. But you know, if they asked me what my graduation date was, it would be misleading because I graduated with my MBA in 2000 - makes me appear younger. Many of us waited until later on in life to complete our education. So I guess there are two-sides to this story. How do they get away with such blatant discrimination is beyond me. I guess no one has really taken a company to task and made it very public - such as tweeting or blasting Facebook or even further by contacting a news media. Get it out there and make these companies accountable as it truly is discrimination.

  • Frederick Page
    Frederick Page

    I continually run into application forms online that REQUIRE graduation date from University. How do they get away with this obvious discrimination tool?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Kenneth M a question back to you. Did you check out the company prior to the interview? If this company hires mainly 18-24 yr olds, it must have been pretty obvious by their website or other information regarding this company? I would be curious to hear how you answered her question. From my perspective, the thing that always gets me about questions like this is that this is nothing new. Older workers have been leading younger workers since the beginning of time. So we have a name for each generation now - the Greatest Generation that ever lived, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y, Z, Millennials - not matter what name we give to each "generation", we have been working together for all time. So how did our managers handle us when we were the 18-24 yr old employees? If you can answer that, you have the answer to her question.

  • Kenneth M.
    Kenneth M.

    I had an experience during an interview that caught me off guard. The interviewer asked "How will you deal working with millennials?" I took a pause, and then replied that I wouldn't treat them any differently and that most of my former staff were in their 20's. In my mind, I wanted to say I wouldn't hold it against them, but she was serious. Her follow up to that question was what really caused me to wonder what they were looking for when she stated that "most of your associates will be 18 - 24 years old? How will you relate to them?" I am still deciding whether to file a claim or not...

  • David Dressler
    David Dressler

    Calling the organization out for age discrimination, however legally justified, is the last resort because complaining will surely lose the applicant the job. On another point: In Canada, at least, it is not illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, gender, religion or any other bias if it is not an employer-employee relationship. Much work is contracted instead of being employment. It is illegal to discriminate in employment but not in contract work in Canada.

  • Keith H.
    Keith H.

    I was a young guy once but now I'm older and I'm still running circles around these young guys. They don't make them like they used to

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Ron D thanks for your comments. You have to take job postings with a grain of salt. Of course they are going to ask for the earth, moon and stars but, when it comes to reality, they know that they are not going to get that perfect employee. They tell you that they want x years of experience but, if you have other skills that they need, they won't look too hard at your years of experience. They are just looking for the best possible candidate which is why they add some impossible qualifications to the posting. Many companies today are only looking for short-time employees. Many companies today don't hire employees on a permanent basis but hire only for a project - which means contract or freelance work with no benefits.

  • Ron D.
    Ron D.

    And some even want more time in experience than the inventor has since he 1st invented the technology

  • Ron D.
    Ron D.

    The jobs seem to be myopic in that each is a narrow discipline, has a short time need and minimal experience.

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