Older Workers: Misconceptions, Facts & Strategies

By Nancy Rosenberg

Age Discrimination (also known as “Ageism”)

Age Discrimination is an irrational discrimination towards people age 50 and over, both male and female. It is especially prevalent in the workplace and negatively impacts employment of this group of workers with its effects particularly noticeable in attitudes and beliefs about older workers’ job performance. These negative attitudes have manifested within employment and personnel policies and practices and are contra to the hiring and continued employment of individuals based solely upon chronological age – not upon factors normally taken into account for performance evaluation. This form of discrimination typically increases or worsens as a worker’s age increases. And the irony of Ageism is that, with a little luck, we will all live long enough to experience it!

This particular definition of Ageism is my own creation, a compilation of all I have read, studied, witnessed, experienced, and fought during my 18 years as a Professional Resume Writer and nearly 30 years in the American workforce. Plus, I too have just recently joined the ranks of older workers! Also, I have selected the cutoff age of 50+ to define an “older worker,” and this is based on my experience working with hundreds of clients of this age group since 1988. However, many other good sources of information do not consider a person an older worker until he or she has reached the ages of 55, 60 or 65. Nonetheless, the information presented here is solid and relevant regardless of what age you might personally consider as designating a client as an “older worker.”

So why do we have Ageism in our society today? Philosophically speaking, I would venture a bold statement that societies throughout the ages have always had groups to dislike, and now the older worker is one such group, and indeed a very large and visible one. On the individual level, my conjecture is that there are and will always be people “out there” who must feel superior over others in order to validate their own self-worth, and in the workplace, the aged worker is a large and easy group to target for such irrational feelings.

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