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Age Discrimination in Job Search and the Workplace

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Have you experienced age discrimination? Laurie McCann is a Senior Attorney with AARP Foundation Litigation where her principal responsibilities include litigation and amicus curiae (impartial advisor) participation for AARP on a broad range of age discrimination and other employment issues.

 

Ask AARP Expert Laurie your questions about age discrimination, and share your experience.

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There is a union, but I wasn't a member. I'm preparing to go through a hearing before the Public Employee Relations Commission at the end of the month. This will be the first agency outside of the one I was in for the appeal process. I don't see anyway I can lose. They did not follow procedure and the damage they've done to me may be irrepairable.

 

I don't want to, but I'll go through the federal EEOC if I have to.

Thanks!

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Conversationalist

Try to prepare notes.  I doubt that the other side will have notes.  This would be for example on 12/15/2017 at 2 :245 PM 'Joe Blow' said "what ever."   This will be the most damming.  As long as you get it close to right they are going to believe you because you wrote it all down.  You can take time to organize your thoughts in a confortable place with all the time in the world while the others will be scrabmling under extreme pressure.  Your testamony will hit them like a freight train.   The commission will see they are trying to make something up to counter your notes.  They have seen it all before. 

 

Good luck!

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Contributor

Yes ; I habeen through it. The truth alwys hit them like a ton of bricks. When you have followed all procedures. Young workers come in , and they want to change everything.
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@m379305h, what are you responding too?  @perryj165369 should be able to hit them with a ton of bricks not the other way around. She just can't back down.  

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Yes, I have experienced age discrimination for st least the past 10 years and even more importantly I am experiencing it right now. One employer that I was interviewing with suggested to me to take my years of my resume for jobs I had in the beginning 10 years or so of my career. She said, " you don't want them guessing your age, do you?"

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@l816228w, that was good advice.  You will get no sympathy from me.  Had you done your necessary homework she wouldn't need to correct you.  SHE WAS DOING YOU A FAVOR.  Too many of us are stupid dinosaurs, clueless as to how the world has changed.  These fools give the rest of the seniors a bad name. As a senior you need to prove your are the brightest and sharpist canadate they have. You are proof at least one of us is a moron!

 

How can it be that you started a job hunt without doing at least a week of resume research even if you only did this a year ago.  Rulles change quickly to weed out the lazy indolant workers not bright enough to keep up with the times.

 

Reality is they can and will discriminate against any senior too stupid to huide that.  It isn't that you are old but because you are way stupid. At the interview for my currect job we discussed why I lied on some of the forms.  She appreciated I could get through all the traps to catch seniors but was smart enough to come clean face to face when I could explain away why I did what I was forced to do.  My job is to overcome any obsticle and get the job done. 

 

I saw getting by age discrimination as a challage.  Before that I tried in vain to cause trouble but equal oporunity doen't protect against age discrimination during a hireing process so you need to live with that.

 

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AARP Expert

Dear l816228w,

I am very sorry to hear that you have encountered so much age discrimination in your career.  I do recommend taking dates off of your resume - particularly graduation dates.  It's sad that it's necessary but as you have experienced, age discrimination is pervasive.  I wish you success in your latest job search.

 

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Newbie

Most of the time the application will not go through if you do not answer the questions regarding schooling..
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Contributor

Please forgive my ignorance but how can you avoid giving your education background if the position requires that information.

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AARP Expert

If possible (I realize many online applications specifically ask for dates) provide education information (i.e., name of university, degree, major etc) without providing dates.

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@lmccann58, I only lie if I am forced to provide dates which is ilegal. To catch you in a lie it leaves them wide open for a law suit.  They can't successfully deny an ilegal practice since they are terminating you because of that practice.  So you are in an unconfortable win/win situation.  You just need to stick to your guns.

 

If I can leave the date blank I do because that is smart.

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@JoanncN227203,

 

All humans are ignorant. I will provide my own view of the hiring process as a community service.  Hopefully, you will be understand the system and exploit its weaknesses. It is better to know the rules than to be the best qualified. The best qualified often never gets past the computer stage of the weeding out process.

 

As the job market tightened up they had to make radical changes. The person who does the hiring is busy like everyone in business these days. 20-30 years ago they might have seen as many as 20 resumes to fill a position. Now it is usually 5. There are maybe 1,000 applicants for that job. How do you get 1,000 down to 5? This is done in personnel. These are probably some of the least technical persons in the company. They usually have a communications degree.  They need to use non-technical methods to weed out applicants. A computer application will eliminate the first 900. HR has a detailed description of the job. They use that in the position posting and use it to eliminate applicants. Some grunt adds the job description to the application. It breaks the description into key words. The resumes are scanned into text and the text is saved in a database. They are graded on a key word search. If a key word is calculus and your resume has that word 3 times you get 3 points. They also have negative key words. You have one of those you are disqualified. The last time I searched @ALO.com was one, ‘references are available on request’ were 2 negative key word/phrase. Note neither have any impact on your skill level. The top 100 will be reviewed by a grunt. I bought one a few drinks to learn her tricks of the trade. She would do 2 passes. The first pass she just looked at the general appearance. If there were pictures, scented paper, expensive paper or eye-catching fonts were thrown out without reading a word. The next run did they appear professional. Did they conform to some kind of resume standard? She would eliminate 80 with very little reading. “Reading takes too much time.” She is likely too stupid to understand the resume anyway. The remaining 20 would go to the staffing manager. They read enough to toss the other 15. BTW the staffing manager has no real clue of what is needed for the job any more than you could pick a good neuro surgeon. Only 5 get seen by someone who knows a good fit when they see one. They will start with 3 of the 5 for interviews. If they don't pan out the interview the other 2.

 

Just to provide a sample of how flawed the key word search is…

A position was opened for a super advanced mathematician. The actual inventor of the math got the Nobel prize for this. He applied and didn’t get an interview. No human saw his resume to discover he had a Nobel prize. He didn’t have algrabra on his resume. This was a flaw of the job description but the person writing the discription doesn’t understand the consequences of putting algrabra as part of the description and they were too busy to ponder that. No one mentions that they can read or write in their resume either. Often the best candidate never makes it to the top 20.

 

My suggestion is to read several articles on key words before you update your resume. That will make or break you. I have a 3-4 page resume depending on margins. That is double the recommended 2 pages. I figure twice the words ought to produce twice the key word score. Mine is designed to be eye scanned fast enough the extra pages don’t matter negatively. They actually help because nothing is left out. I include a brief description of the business and what I did there. Persons who get hired into a ‘different world’ often flounder for a while. In most interviews I get asked about a particular job. That is because that was similar to what they do. They ask me some what if questions to see if I would do the right thing. Some say the description waists space but I don’t think so. No resume writer like my resume because it is a wacky hybrid. ALL the staffing managers love it so their opinion is what counts.  Knowing who to trust is the hardest part of job hunting. A hint, if you don't get calls it is your resume. 

 

What does all this have to do with age discrimination? 99.5% of the applicants are tossed for no good reason. By lying, you can make it to that .5%. Maybe the hiring manager hates old people and you are screwed but often they are far more concerned that you will not be an embarrassment to them. You have a slim chance of getting a job instead of no chance. My experience is that only 1 in 5 will hire the older more qualified person. I remember my expected manager telling me I got the job based on my interview and resume. She said no one came close then she corrected that statement that one person one was a distant second. He got the job not me.

 

Even if you don’t get the job you get interview practice which is very important. BTW I have over 40 pages of questions they may ask me during the interview and 2 pages of questions I might ask them. I always hand write them since I have gotten comments on my hand-written questions. Some like that a lot.  They like that the questions were all written specifically for them and some are modified for them.They are gullable enough to think you pondered a great deal about their company instead that you need to pay bills. 

 

If you can, attend job hunting classes. I had to drive an hour each way for the 3-day class but it was well worth it. Every trick you learn makes it easier and more likely you will land a job. You also can network other job hunters. For most jobs the network is key.

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>Even if you don’t get the job you get interview practice which is very important.

 

Practice is important. Still, after interviewing for a handful of positions I was qualified for in every way, I get no offers for the jobs in my field.  The only offers I get are from part-time, near min-wage jobs in retail.  I'm 58 & female.  Interviewers all younger than I. 

 

What older workers need is a more aggressive mass group approach to advocacy -- more in the mold of the #meToo, ACT-UP & school shooter protests.  I just don't see these.  Is any group playing hardball to get older workers our rights? Softball, "Older workers are so valuable!" PR efforts just...don't...work. 

 

When I look at the "older worker friendly" companies hiring that are listed on this site they're all bottom of the barrel jobs advertised to *everyone* EVERYWHERE -- selling financial products, driving school buses.  They're so desperate they'll take anyone.

 

Can anyone tell me if there's a more aggressive organization that organizes and advocates and legally challenges ageism in a more in-your-face way?  Or is everyone "too tired" to do this? 

 

Institutions often only change when they're scared & they HAVE to.  Carrot isn't working. Time to take out the stick.

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@JulieK260428, I suggest you work on your interviewing skills.  They don't make you look younger but they will make you more hireable. I wasn't happy with my interviewing skills until I hit a homerun for every interview.  Sometimes you just make such a good impression they have to hire you.  The very last thing I perfected was my questions I ask them.  Long ago they were pretty lame but in my last few years I learned that is the critical part of the interview.  Those questions divide you from your were the most qualified person but too old to 'lets see what that old guy can do'. I always try to learn what was their biggest problem facing them at that time then solve it for them. That only works if you are way sharper than everyone in the room. Hell none of them were smart enough to figure it out.

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Tks for response. Can people comment on how, *specifically* one goes about "improving interviewing skills"?  I think the state job search offices only offer class style seminars for this when what's really needed is an individualized approach, coaching, practice, drills, etc.  I don't want to (and doubt) this can really be learned online, in a group lecture, etc.  I need individualized, more-than-one-shot help with this. Where do I start?  I'm open to paying someone, though not an outrageous amount of $$. Tks.

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@JulieK260428,

I will do this in at least 2 posts since I will need to put something together. I will try to impart as much as I know to you and other struggling persons. There is nothing more frustrating and hurtful as job hunting when you are over the hill. It gave me a little appreciation of what blacks went through not so many years ago. You should get 2 people you know to hold a mock interview and one of the two records a video of you interviewing.

#1 Both my state and county have job hunt courses. The states are far better than our county. I took all the courses I felt might help me. The county had an interview class. We held mock interviews and the class and the leader made comments. The leader usually pointed out body language mistakes. I read as over confide3nt so I was told to sit on the edge of my seat to minimize some of that language. For my position cocky and confident are signs of success but I may come off as too cocky.

You want to research how to interview I used all that showed up in a Google search then made a master list of what/not to do. I review that and my resume at the beginning or usually at the end of a work cycle. I usually worked short contracts. They are easier to get. I start gearing up in my last month or so when I do hit the road my tires are squealing rubber. You are the hottest the first few months out of work.

https://www.livecareer.com/career/advice/interview/job-interview-tips

https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-ultimate-interview-guide-30-prep-tips-for-job-interview-success

https://zety.com/blog/interview-tips

 

 

I rarely know any of the interviewers beforehand except for my contact that I usually got from the head hunter the day of so you really don’t have time to research them. I never saw that as a problem.

I have 45 pages of technical questions they might ask. I pour over the question for days before the interviewe. If I head a new one I add it to my list before I leave the parking lot. I will share with you may list of questions I might ask them because they are not position specific.

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Conversationalist

@JulieK260428@I have reported several companies but it is like pushing a string.  I just lied and hoped for the best.  I look young for my age so it worked well enough.  I  would rather drink or watch TV over taking on the world.  I will leave that to you. I  am 68 and working at my last job.  I can easily retire now.

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 "I always hand write them since I have gotten comments on my hand-written questions. Some like that a lot. "

 

Reffered to the questions I may ask them.  I normally have the rest hidden so I can cram in the waiting room.  I few times I have taken written tests or answered questions as a confrence call alone.  I got to take out all the answers and did well on those.

 

I update my questions before I leave the parking lot so everything is still fresh.  I usually tweak something after every interview.

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It's funny, there is a job opening in my area for a contract SharePoint administrator and I have received a call from about every "staffing" firm known to man... My phone is ringing off the hook as my resume is age neutral and only goes back 18 years. They are looking for exactly what I did at the Florida Department of Transportaion. We get to talking about rate and it's great at $50/hr. I give them all my info, along with my age, and then never hear from them again... it's ridiculous... There is no protection from age discrimination.

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Conversationalist

Never put blank. That will also cost you the job.
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If you do give your age your not going to get the job, so I’m not sure there is an advantage.

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There you have all the information you need!  You are a developer so you must be pretty smart.

 

People claimed I am nuts but now I just lie.  I do not lie on a security clearance but that paperwork is not used to week out canidates but an application or a phone interview UI tell them what I need to to go forward.  If they try to fire me for lying on my application, I get a lawyer.  Their illegal age discrimination forced me to lie.  I bet that is the only way you can successfully sue for age discrimination.  The only reason you lied to to avoid age discrimination.  That is illeagal so is making you put your age or graduation in a pre hire document.  I am sure that can't fire you because you lied on information they are not allowed to ask you.  I think by lying you are in a much better spot than where you are now.  No job no prospects. 

 

In the face to face interview I come clean and they ask why did I lie.  I say with confidance then you wouldn't have gotten the best man for the job.  I am also a programmer.  I remind them that I am someone that gets the job done no matter what is in my way.  My job was to get this job, did I fail.  The answer was NO!  The person that hires you is more concerned with your skills and capibilities than your age.  The persons weeding you out don't know good from bad so the weed you out with methods that don't require intelligence. 

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Contributor

Interesting information and helpful, thank you.

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Periodic Contributor

That is fine for your resume but the problem is that many employers have online applications that require you to fill in graduation and employment dates to complete the app, so you have no choice but to give away your age. College graduation in the 1970's? You are hosed.

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I have successfully lied.  At the interview for the job I have now we had a frank discussion about how age discrimination can prevent a company from getting the best canidate.  My job is basicilly problem solving.  I explained I always get the job done no matter what the obsticles.  That is what she wanted to hear.

 

BTW...  If you are fired for lying about your age, they stupidly have baired their throat to an age discrimination law suit that is very winnable.  The proof you need will be that they bacicly fired you because of your age.  Normally they will deny that there was discrimination but here they fired you.  I contend they are forcing you to lie because they are illeaglly discriminating against you. I tried getting the companies into trouble without success. I have gotten 3 jobs by lying.  I let the final decider be able to choose me insted of allowing my self to get flushed down the toilet.  I would sue them for illeagal practices and leak that to the news.  The thing it you have NOTHING to lose. BTW I never lie on a security form.  In my experiance they don't use that information to weed you out.  The purpose of the job application IS to weed you out.

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Newbie

Hello: I'm Joe was laid off from work ! 29 18  and went onto a few online sites to find other work. Twice i was told that such sites had job oppenings for me. But when I was asked what year I graduated High School and answered correctly in the year1970. They said I'm not qualified or I'm sorry and disconnected the call and hung up. Nothing more.

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Joe @j534550f, you are not the first to have that trick played on you.  Lie!  You graduated HS in 1980 or later.  I would say go to resumerabbit and get a resume writer to re-write your resume.  I am not a huge fan of resumerabbit.  They put your resume out to over 87 different job search sites. This gives you huge visability.  I know persons who averaged over 100 hrs a week and I averaged over 80 hrs for my first and hardest job hunt.  After I stared using time saving devices I was able to drop down to 10-15 hrs and have more leads.    Resumerabbit has a staff or resume writers.  I don't know if they are employees or contractors.  The big deal is someone who knows a lot more about resume writting than you vetted these writers.  They may not be the best but you could do lots worse and any writer will make a better resume than yours. 

 

Without a great resume you will get no leads because no one wants you.

 

Before it is written then you need to research 'key words'.  A computer will reduce a stack of 1,000 resumes to 100 - 20. This is done by key word analysis You need to highlight the key words for 20 job adds for positions you think you would be good at.  You need to fit those key words into your resume if you can. You can't help that you are lacking a hot skill but you are a loser to not get valid key words on your resume.  Joe no one wants a loser these days!   Then let the resume writer make your resume attractive.  They ought to know key words when they see them and not mess with those.  They must be an exact match for the computer to find them.  The winners have the most matches.  If 2 jobs have the same key woords list them in both jobs.  Usually you get points for each occurance.  Don't limit your resume to 2 pages.  That is for losers who like to follow rules.  I only have one rule win. My 4 page resume has more key words than a 2 page resume.  It is easily scanable and not cramped so the length is never an issue.  No one reads every word on a resume.  They only read what is important to them.  I posted a piece of my resume on one of these discussions.  It think it was how to find a job as a senior. It was work getting my resume into something redily undestandable to someone not in my business so I am not going to do that again.  There are plenty of tips in that discussion.  Knolledge is power!

 

You really need to be reading blogs about what to do and not to do during job hunting.  These rules change from year to year.  They want to weed out the poorly informed.  Lucky for you most may be better qualified than you but their resume landed in the trash not yours.  In this day and age knowing how to play the game is more important than qualifications.  That is sick but we live in a very sick society.

 

The person you are talking to on the first call in responce to your application is a no body.  The first few calls are all gate keepers their job is to get rid of junk.  Old people stupid enough to admit that are junk.  Once you actually talk to a person who cares about filling the position with the best possible canidatye might concider a whily old fox.  One who has the smarts and expeiance to get the job done correctly.  The job is to get the job.  That is how you must see it if you expect to get one.  Granted, ALL the cards are stacked against you.  If you aren't prepared to do what ever it takes just retire gracefully becuase job hunting takes lot of time and energy.  Most of the time you will not be hired even if you were the best canidate.  At one job the profect manager reviewed all the resumes, picked who would be interviewed and sat in on all the interviews.  She told me right after the interview that my interview was a home run only one other canidate even came close and assumed I would be working for her but the clients made the decision to hire that other person.  At one point there was an issue maybe they were getting hit up for more money or something and they made sure I was still interested.  It wasn't that there was anything other than my age that they objected to.  You will see more of that than the ones that actually want the best they can get dispite age.  They joked about my age during my last interview.  I said I play hard ball and I do what it takes to get the job done right.  I said I wouldn't retire while the contract was in play.  I go the job.  This is my last.  I am good to retire (I have made my financial goal to retire over a year ago)  but I am good to my word.  I have gotten 6 jobs in my 60s.  5 were short term contracts this last is perment.  That is Gods trick on me.  I only wanterd a 6 month job so I got what might be a 5 year job.  I don't mind working but job hunting is a living hell after 60.   

 

Resume rabbit posts to over 87 job search sites 

A review for resume rabbit

http://jonathanmilligan.com/resume-rabbit/

 

Good luck Joe! (and anyone else reading this who needs a job)

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I was laid off from my job with 21 years experience and no write ups on a Friday.  On Monday my job was replaced by a younger person with much less experience and less pay.  

However, the issue I came here to talk about is my current situation that stemed from that lay off.  I am an older student in journalism going back to school after changing careers.  I really want to write.  Today in class my instructor, a reporter, said we will first be hired on age, looks, body shape, hair color - before talent.  I'm not interested in being on mainstream TV.  I was particularly disappointed with her comments because she seems to be a proponent of women's issues in the news lately.  Should journalism programs only accept young, attractive, slender students?  I understand she was trying to give us the harsh reality but is this acceptable to perpetrate this attitude?

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@JosetteM691141, you were very lucky you got your warning early.  This has ALWAYS been the way of the world and it has only gottem much worse. It was always rare for an unattractive women to get promoted.  What ever you do, you need to be able to impress to even keep your job.  Articulate, attractive persons have an easier time doing that. In education your race, age and what you look like is more important than teaching skills.  No wonder over 70% of HS graduates don't read welll enough to get into the army. Our education is run by fools.  College grads test at about the level of graduates from 3rd world colleges. SAT scores have been going down evey year since about 1970.  They changed the tests instead of fixing the problem.

 

You may still be able to make it but the cards are stacked against you in any area, since you are an AARP member. Just read all the horror stories. 

 

I tried fighting back for age discrimination but realized that was just spitting into the wind and a waste of effort.

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AARP Expert

JosetteM691141, it certainly is NOT acceptable to perpetuate this attitude.  Unfortunately, however, certain industries are especially known for their "youth is good and age is bad" attitude and journalism, particularly on-camera journalism is one of them. Hopefully, you prove them wrong.  Thank you for sharing your stories with us and best wishes for a long and successful journalism career.

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