As we grow older, we become invisible to many groups of people: recruiters, hiring managers, advertisers, moviemakers, and retailers in general. Product driven companies tend to target millennials and the new and upcoming Z generation much more often than they do baby boomers or Generation X. With 30% of all US workers above the age of 55, it is very likely that your LinkedIn profile or resume goes unnoticed. It’s also not hard to believe that ageism is alive and present in the workplace. According to an AARP survey, two out of three workers between the ages of 45 and 74 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work. So how can you protect yourself after 50? By proactively managing your career!
Being proactive about the realities of your career after the age of 50 is not just smart, it is essential. Here are a few things you should be aware of:
- Contrary to stereotypes, workers age 50 and up are more engaged employees, more loyal and have lower turnover rates than younger workers.
- Ageism can be subtle with older employees disciplined at higher rates and not promoted as readily as younger workers with less experience.
- Staying abreast of technology can also help protect you. Being up to date on computer skills can help you land a job as well as keep one.
- Ageism is difficult to prove and a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision found that plaintiffs alleging age discrimination have a higher burden of proof than other types of discrimination.
- If you are let go without cause, you should inquire how the decision was made and how many other people were affected. If age discrimination is suspected consider pursuing legal action as a group or using your position to negotiate a better severance package.
- If you are self-employed, your years of experience may actually work in your favor in professions like accounting, finance, law, medicine, and consulting, High levels of education and expertise are desired and sought after when it comes to these professions.
- Seek out employers who will value your experience and not see age as an issue. Nonprofit organizations, education and government are three sectors that are less likely to discriminate based on age.
- Congress has the ability to tighten age discrimination regulations so contact your representatives and let them know what you would like to see done to protect older adults.
Managing your career after 50 is more important than ever! By being proactive, and selectively choosing potential employers, you will also reduce the chance for age discrimination.