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How stereotypes hurt older workers looking for employment

The rise of digital job listings has made it easier than ever before for workers to track down jobs that would perfectly fit their skills, even if the job is far away or they have no connections at the company that has a position open. It may only take a few clicks to submit your resume to the company for consideration.

Sadly, the downside of greater job listing accessibility is that there are dozens if not hundreds more applicants for good positions then there would have been if a company only uses local listing resources. When a company has to make a selection among a large number of applicants, many of whom are fully qualified for the position, it can be hard to make a selection or even disqualify certain candidates.

Some people in management or human resources may lean on internal biases stemming from stereotypes when determining who to cut from the candidate pool. They might assume, for example, that older workers won’t have much skill with technology. Such practices often harm older employees and could constitute age discrimination.

Qualifications seem to matter less as workers age

When you apply for a job, you want the business to consider you based on your skills, education and experience, not on some perceived idea about how people of a certain age behave.

Unfortunately, researchers looking at hiring practices across multiple countries found that the skill level of older applicants had less impact on their success in applying for a position than one might think. Even the most qualified and highly skilled older applicants had a harder time securing offers of employment than younger workers with fewer skills who accept lower pay.

Who a company hires can hint at discrimination

Simply choosing not to hire one qualified candidate isn’t necessarily an act of discrimination, but a pattern of ignoring qualified older candidates and filling positions with younger workers might be a sign that the person hiring at a company has strong internal biases that led to discrimination.

If you were offered a position only to lose out on the job opportunity after the company learned your age or if you have other reasons to suspect that age discrimination has affected your career growth, you may want to talk about your experiences with a lawyer.