Ageism is a common term used to describe age discrimination in the workplace. Ageism is defined by Dictionary.com as a tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.
Do you agree with the above definition? From my experience, I have noticed quite the opposite to be true. Ageism at work stems from the belief that younger, “fresher”, candidates can contribute more than older, “experienced”, candidates. I will explain why this is not true below.
According to AARP.org, one in five workers in the U.S. (33 million) is age 55 or older. 64% of workers say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work. 58% of adults believe discrimination against age begins among workers in their 50s. Personally, I have witnessed age discrimination begin among workers in their 40s. Why should you care? Unlike other forms of discrimination, age discrimination will almost certainly affect your life at some point in the future.
Signs of Discrimination Against Age
Have you ever been told, “You are overqualified for the job”, “You are too senior for this job” or “You would not fit in with the company’s culture”? More often than not this is legal code for, “You are too old for the job.” If you have been told to trim down your background, remove work from your resume, and dumb down your experience, chances are someone is trying to help you appear younger. These are just a few of the signs you are experiencing discrimination against your age. If you can relate, there are companies like Find My Profession who can help combat these hiring objections based on age.
Advantages of Hiring “Experienced” Employees
There are a plethora of reasons why hiring older employees is beneficial. For starters, older employees have more experience. They have gone through the trenches, made their mistakes, and learned from them. A company full of young employees is bound to make many of the same mistakes that these “experienced” employees have made. This can be a huge expense financially as well as time invested fixing these mistakes.
Experienced employees can act as mentors. Steve Jobs put it nicely when he said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Young companies/founders should not be intimidated by older employees. Instead, they should utilize their experience, knowledge, and professionalism that has been accumulated over the years.
Age in Relation to Salary Requirements
Many companies think that the higher the age, the higher the salary they must pay. I am here to tell you that this is not always the case. And even when it is true, you cannot compare apples and oranges.
First things first, do not rule a candidate out because you assume they will require a higher salary. Ask them! If they tell you that $125,000 is their salary requirements and that is perfectly within your budget, do not rule them out because you are afraid they will leave for a better opportunity.
Second, stop being such a stickler on the salary. If someone brings an extra ten years of experience to the table, do they deserve an extra $10,000? Absolutely! The experience they will bring and mistakes they will prevent you from making will pay for itself in the first month.
Ageism in the Workplace Conclusion
It is a new year. 2018 is here and everyone can play a part in preventing age discrimination at work. Hiring managers, make a conscious decision to value “experienced” employees accurately. I can tell you from experience that hiring older employees is the way to go. Check out my viral LinkedIn post (15 million+ views, 10,000+ comments, and 175,000+ likes) on ageism in the workplace.