This story will be very familiar to many people.
If you haven’t experienced ageism yet, I guess that you are not old enough or too young. I remember in my youth being told that I was too young for a particular position. It only ever happened once, but now that I’m over 50, ageism happens all the time.
Of course, no one ever tells me that I’m too old for a job, they use other words like, “cultural fit”, which is a euphemism for being seen as too old to fit into the demographic of the company. No one ever has the guts to come out and say “you are too old”. And they won’t ever, because it’s against the law.
You know when you’ve reached that time where people are denying you work based on your age. It’s when you are applying for positions you’ve been doing your whole life, and now you’re not getting a reply, let alone an interview.
That age is 50. This is when the age of ageism really kicks in.
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Of course, it’s a truly bizarre situation, when you have worked for so many years, built up so many skills, built up your network and increased your ability to do your job quicker and better and you can achieve more during the working day, and people want to knock you back because of your age.
It is inexplicable that an employer wouldn’t be jumping at someone with your skills, understanding and knowledge because of your age. But the majority of them do it.
Even if you don’t put your birthday on your resume, it’s pretty obvious from the positions that you’ve been working in and how your resume is written, that you are of a “particular age”.
Australia has an Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, but their department doesn’t seem to do much, because ageism is rife in so many companies in Australia. Yes, everyone is going to tell you that there is some other reason why you didn’t get an interview or a reply, but as you get older you get wiser, and you know what people are and aren’t telling you.
Unemployment among older Australians has been described as a “national disaster”. Because people over 50 are being knocked back from jobs because of their age, more and more of us are turning to unemployment benefits, new figures show.
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Even though there are plans and payments from governments to encourage companies to employ older people, obviously the figures tell us that these strategies are not effective.
There is no way to stop companies, or anyone for that matter from being ageist. So if you’re in my situation, you have to do what I’m doing: go out and get retrained. But that still won’t solve the ageism problem. You have to start your own business. Maybe if you get good and big enough, you can then start employing people, of the right age of course. Reverse discrimination, wouldn’t that be nice!
Have you experienced discrimination at job interviews because of your age? Tell us below.