Man giving a thumbs upWe've heard from many of you that you believe you've experienced age discrimination as you search for a job even though the ADEA was passed to protect people from ageism. In today's post, we offer tips that may help you avoid age discrimination during your job search.

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Ageism: Yes, It Exists

Mar 12, 2019

Man giving a thumbs upWe've heard from many of you that you believe you've experienced age discrimination as you search for a job. Unfortunately, in 2017 — 50 years after the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed — there were more than 18,000 complaints of age discrimination filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). So yes, after all these years, ageism still exists.

That's the bad news. But let's look at some good news and discuss what you can do to counteract ageism in your search for employment or in the workplace.

The good news

As you may have read, the U.S. is currently experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in 18 years. This means employers have to look at candidates that they might have previously overlooked, such as older workers. In addition, research from the National Council on Aging has shown that these workers have lower absentee and turnover rates than younger workers.

In fact, according to a 2018 report by the EEOC, "Today's experienced workers are healthier, more educated, and working and living longer than previous generations. Age-diverse teams and workforces can improve employee engagement, performance, and productivity. Experienced workers have talent that our economy cannot afford to waste."

What can you do?

The ADEA protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants.

The ADEA protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants.

Let's face it, we cannot change our age. But what we can do is focus on countering assumptions employers have about age and ability and highlighting the strengths and skills you bring to a job role. Here are a few ideas.

  1. Look at your resume
    1. Keep it under 2 pages at the most, focusing on the most recent 10 to 15 years. If you haven't worked in a while, follow these tips on addressing gaps in employment.
    2. Include your social media profile so an employer can see that you're comfortable with the technology.
    3. Take out phrases like "30 years of experience" in your summary.
    4. Focus and quantify your accomplishments rather than listing tasks or responsibilities. For example, instead of saying "I was responsible for purchasing," you might say "I saved the company $XX by obtaining volume discounts for purchases."
  2. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is professional and up to date.
  3. Use your personal network and online research to find companies whose culture is right for you. Some companies, for example start-ups, are more likely to be staffed by younger workers, but others value experience in jobs such as managers, analysts, customer advocates, sales etc.
  4. Make sure you're current in your industry — and the tech that it uses — and that you're aware of the latest trends.
  5. Be prepared with examples of your previous engagement in work and willingness to achieve your employer's goals.
  6. Pay attention to your appearance. Avoiding dated styles and opting for clean, neat, and simple clothing and minimal accessories may help interviewers focus on your skills and experience.

 Finally, remember your attitude is everything. If you act motivated, happy and enthusiastic, people will pick up on your positive attitude. An upbeat personality makes you a more attractive candidate.

Filing a charge

If you think you've experienced age discrimination, you may consider filing a charge with the EEOC. A charge of discrimination is a signed statement asserting an employer or another employment entity, like a union or labor organization, engaged in employment discrimination and requests that the EEOC take action. This is the first, and necessary, step if you're considering filing an ageism lawsuit. Generally speaking, you have 180 days to file a charge.

You can learn more about filing a charge and what you can expect once you file from the EEOC's website.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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