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Age Discrimination Sucks

November 10th, 2008

I was just too old in my job search.

I found I was competing with younger kids, who were okay to ask for (or require) less money for their starting salary.  Even though I had more experience, etc etc., I felt I was just too old.

Age discrimination – I was too old at 32.

I also felt discriminated against from the other end.  I was just too young.  Other “product managers” and “general managers” and IT execs that I was up against were about as old as my dad, and had decades of relevant experience.  Way more experience than I had. I was simply too young, even though I had enough experience (I thought) and ambition to do the job right, and make a significant impact on the companies I was applying to.

Age discrimination – I was too young at 32.

Age discrimination sucks.  Any discrimination sucks, of course, but I think age discrimination is one of the most common (I hear about it ALL THE TIME).

Over the next few days I’m going to share a story from someone who filed an age discrimination claim.   The story is touching, of course, and it will likely make you mad… but there is sage advice in the story.  For now, you can read a few other posts that have to do with age discrimination:

I should note, the story I’ll share this week is about an ex-employee and age discrimination, not age discrimination in a job search (that will be for later).

8 Comments »

8 responses to “Age Discrimination Sucks”

  1. Great post! You know another interesting thing I’ve seen with some people with whom I’ve worked is industry discrimination. They have worked in a particular area of manufacturing for most of their career and through no fault of their own, their jobs were offshored or downsized. They all have tremendous transferable skills, huge achievements, etc. However, several have really struggled to find another job. While I understand that in today’s market, it’s almost become expected to see frequent career changes, it was not the standard 15-20 years ago. Then, employers valued seeing longevity.

  2. Love the way you’ve framed this important discussion by referencing other posts.

    At the risk of simplification, I suggest that the problem is not only “age discrimination. Instead, I think the barriers may be created by the generations with which people identify and allow themselves to be identified with.

    Many young people with whom I’ve worked have bought into the value system of their Gen X siblings or Boomer parents – they are too self-centered to succeed in the New Age of Social Networking & Responsibility. While they grew-up with technology, they are not comfortable using it in ways that promote their vision, their brand, and their colleagues.

    Similarly, many Gen X’ers and Boomers replicate the behaviors of Traditionalists – they prefer a “Command and Control” organizational structure and expect subordinates to maintain their network through old-school communication tools. A good example of this is John McCain – a Vietnam Veteran whose brand resonated with “The Greatest Generation,” those who fought in WWII.

    We can’t change our chronological age, but we can move fluidly between generations, accepting characteristics of each that are relevant to our current vision and brand.

  3. Ricky Dyson says:

    I have found a twist to this — to avoid the inevitable question of age discrimination, they will use the old “overqualified” excuse. I have found this in positions for which I was a perfect fit and even in “let’s give it a shot” positions for which I was not. I even had one where the initial viewer of my resume said, literally, “Wow”. Still “overqualified” in the end.

  4. Ricky Dyson says:

    Let me add to Karen’s thought. I think she is absolutely right. The very idea of “nobility”, “hard work” and a little sacrifice for the advancement of others and the group has been lost. Greenspan was amazed that the idea of “enlightened self interest” did not translate into “self regulation”. Duh.
    It seems these little children have to learn by putting their hands on the burner, not by listening to mother.
    And they WILL learn.

  5. […] just reread it and decided to make it 4 parts.  Today’s is the LONGEST, as it is the story (yesterday I introduced the idea).  I’m starting with the very last thing this person […]

  6. I am researching and writing an article for an English newspaper as I have too much spare time on account of being under utilized in the workplace. Yep, age discrimination, so give me a job and I’ll go quietly. I would love to hear from anyone with experience of 1/. difficulty getting a job due to age discrimination, the cost of this in monetary terms and effect on self-esteem, and 2/. Recent redundancy where age is suspected as being a reason for selection. We can only stop age discrimination by being vocal and campaigning to abolish age discrimination. I do not believe that employers and employment agencies will take note unless it really scares them financially, so I am gathering evidence of proven discrimination to see whether I can establish a route to legal action to obtain compensation. If there are any legal eagles out there interested in determining what evidence is necessary to identify and justify legal action for compensation, perhaps we could create a help sheet for those who have grounds for complaint. I have created a Blog to list useful resources and links, so if anyone is interested, please visit http://age-discrimination-uk.blogspot.com/

  7. […] week’s series was pretty serious (read my experience with age discrimination in the job search, the age discrimination story here, strategies, tactics and then lessons […]

  8. Tara says:

    @Ricky Dyson – this is exactly how I feel – why would an employer NOT want an overqualified employee?? It makes no sense to me that you wouldn’t hire the best person for the job, that makes your company better!

    You’re right though – they will learn someday.