The Problem of Age Discrimination During the Job Search Process
The job search process is frightening for many older job seekers (age 50 and older) and is a stressful time that causes anxiety for many. Job seekers age 50 and older have endured negative experiences with ageism (age discrimination) while searching for new employment. Older job seekers describe feeling discouraged, defeated, vulnerable, depressed, insecure, financially insecure, emotional, physically-ill, lost, and hopeless. Older workers are a fast-growing segment of the US workforce, and many older workers are choosing to work longer because they enjoy their careers, value constant personal development, and desire to stay active. Older Americans are healthier than ever and many intend to work as long as they are able; however, older job seekers face age discrimination upon reentering the job market and while seeking promotions due to ageist hiring practices. Ageism is a problem for older job seekers who have no intentions of leaving the labor market. According to numerous industry experts, studies have shown that hiring decision-makers use ageist hiring practices to evaluate older job seekers. These ageist recruitment strategies are often veiled and are, therefore, difficult for older job seekers to detect. Such practices are the result of prejudicial thoughts and unfounded stereotypes about older workers.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) protects employees over age 40 from discrimination by employers based on age during the hiring, working, and termination of employment (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019); however, organizations choose to ignore the laws. Ageism is on the rise because companies find legal ways to protect their discriminatory hiring practices. These ambiguous hiring practices permit companies to disregard employment laws without penalties. Companies that are interested in doing the right thing of eradicating ageist and hostile work environments must create workplaces that value a diverse group of employees, immediately admit to their ageist hiring practices, educate their workforce to address the issue, then implement inclusive, fair, and non-ageist hiring practices that brand their organizations as employers of choice for older workers.
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Franz, N. (In Progress). A Phenomenological Case Study to Describe the Ageism-Induced Anxiety of Older JobSeekers [Unpublished Ed.D. Problem of Practice]. Baylor University.