Contrary to what a lot of people want or try to negate, age discrimination is still rampant. Why is that? Well, this is because it often happens implicitly: for example, you are told that you do not fit in the profile or in the team. Or you do not receive any feedback at all. But I would like to start with a pretty straightforward example of age discrimination.
Too young for a job (inexperienced) or too old (expensive), what can you do against age discrimination? Read on and find out. Then there is the perfect way out of this mess and I am giving it to you at the end. Check it out!
During her rounds as a mail lady, Sophie (48) saw a vacancy for a cashier at a supermarket. Physically less demanding work and more favorable working hours, she immediately saw the advantages. Moreover, she seemed ideal for the position, as she even trained as a cashier. So she applied and what happened?
She did not even receive the application form. “No ma’am, we’re looking for a young person,” she was told. How did she respond? “She said,” Well, I’ll keep looking at other opportunities.” Notwithstanding this she couldn’t help but make a comment when she delivered the post the next time around. “There you have this old lady again,” she shouted. “
Many people experience age discrimination
Unfortunately Sophie’s experience is not an isolated one. New research shows that more than half of the respondents have had to deal with discrimination on the labor market, 66 percent of which with age discrimination. This was not only about candidates who were “too old”, respondents were also sometimes excluded because they were “too young”.
Most of the experiences were less explicit than those of Sophie. More often it hardly touched the surface. How can you best respond to situations like this? Ignore? Or take some positive action? What can you do if you suspect that you are being discriminated against based on your age?
Age discrimination during the application process
Ageism is most common during the application process. What can you do if you suspect ageism but are not sure? Imagine you are 55 and you are looking for a new job. You send application email after application email, but are never invited for an interview, because other candidates appear to fit the profile better. Sometimes you are turned away with the message that the position has already been filled, only to be told that this someone else was invited at a later stage. Click here for what you can do.
In such cases, it is advised that you just go ahead and keep doing your best. It is also suggested talking to an organization that you might want to hire if you are willing to learn new things. Older unemployed people are often in the dark about what is actually being asked of them, so please do ask. Suppose it is a company that works a lot with Italy, then you can have a conversation and say you would like to learn Italian for a few months and ask if they can offer you a job afterwards.
Are there really companies and organizations that want to wait that long for a candidate to complete a course? Yes, there are many sectors with significant staff shortages. If you can get someone who wants to develop and gain knowledge that is relevant to the company, then this is a great opportunity.
It also make no sense to apply anonymously. Because when you finally come for an interview and the employer sees how old you are, he or she can say that he or she made a mistake.
Sometimes a rejection explicitly refers to an age. One of the respondents was told: We strive for diversity in the team, we already have someone your age. That can happen, of course, if a company seriously strives for diversity and they already have enough representatives from a certain group, then it is not illogical that they now want someone from another group. It is very coincidental, but it could be true and then there is really not much to say about it.
Age discrimination in the workplace
Age discrimination does not only occur in job applications. This can also be the case on the shop floor itself. A subtle remark that you don’t have much life experience yet, for example. That you can’t know what you want at your age. Your supervisor who does not believe that you only produced the research report because you are just a “rookie”.
In such a case, first ask yourself whether this is really about your age or whether you might lack certain knowledge and skills. Ask yourself if you are as good as you think you are. People tend to overestimate themselves. Talk to a colleague about that.
With an explicit reference to your age or to the fact that you will retire in a few years, you certainly have reason to complain. For example, if all colleagues are given the opportunity to follow a training or course and can indicate how they want to grow in the company, except for those who are “already” 55. Start a conversation with your manager, in which you point out that the employer can enjoy it for another twelve years if you do that training and use that knowledge.
Age discrimination at contract extension
The moment an employment contract expires, is sometimes used “to rejuvenate”. “I didn’t get a permanent contract because I was too old. They were afraid that I would get sick. But I had never been ill in those two years, “said one of the victims.
If you are about to lose your job, hopefully most people will take action. It is useful to be a member of a union and also make sure you have legal expenses insurance, if available in your country.
I also want to make an appeal to employers and HR managers. They should be more aware of the things that the elderly can do. The group of customers, clients, patients is also getting older. These people sometimes like to be helped by an older person.
Choosing a younger candidate is mainly a habit, something that just happens automatically. With no thought whatsoever! You never see a TV presenter replaced by someone older. It is always an opportunity to rejuvenate. This also applies to a political party and in business. Companies and organizations assume that older workers will be less likely to be integrated than younger workers, are less flexible and not as malleable. Assume, because that does not always have to be the case.
The promised perfect way out
From the above it can be concluded that age discrimination is not going away any time soon. Some people might be successful to still get the job, but for a lot of us this will not happen very easily or quickly.
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