Many people over age 50-55 were furloughed or cut in layoffs during the pandemic. Many have found it difficult to obtain a new, relevant job related to their experience and skills.
Some employers are up front about their age discrimination:
But some of the most common are employers who want graduation dates, photos on resumes or an answer to the cringy question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Age discrimination has been an acknowledged part of work for decades. The U.S. labor law forbidding employment discrimination by age was directly addressed in The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
Nevertheless, ageism persists.
Public health quacks’ messaging is a contributor:
“We had our highest elected officials, governors across the country, all of our elected public health officials saying daily: poor, weak, vulnerable elderly, poor, weak, vulnerable elderly. And they were literally defining elderly as ages 60 and 65,” said Vanderburg, who is 68. “It contradicts the underlying message of valuable older workers.”
The Wall Street Journal ran an article a few days ago about age discrimination post-pandemic. For workers over age 55, the labor force participation rate is the same today as it was at bottom in April 2020. One would expect the participation rate to have gone up, but it has not.
An important contributor, also, is pace of change. In fields that change rapidly, experience adds little value. A software engineer with 7-10 years experience is often not much better than one with 2-3 years experience – because their experience is in specialty areas that are no longer in use. A corollary is to pick a career in a field where experience adds value versus those where experience is even seen as a hindrance.
They included quotes from people who had few call backs, and the few that were called for an interview said the moment they saw “my gray hair”, it was over.