We do our best to not let age define us in our career, but sometimes there are hidden signs that our age is impacting our career. Whether it’s unintentional bias or outright ageism in the workplace, age does have an impact on whether or not you’re considered for promotions, new job opportunities, or something else related to your career. Even though age doesn’t define you or your career, it might be having some effect on how your career develops. We’ve highlighted ways in which you can beat ageism in the workplace with your resume when you’re pursuing new job opportunities, looking to secure that promotion, or hoping to highlight why you should be in charge of an important work project.
What Is Ageism?
For those who are unfamiliar with the term Ageism, it refers to a type of age discrimination in the workplace. Age discrimination in the workplace essentially translates to individuals holding some kind of bias or negative opinion of you, your work ethic, productivity, or skill set because of your age.
Age discrimination typically translates into older individuals not receiving the same consideration as other younger professionals when it comes to hiring considerations, promotions, pay increases, job tasks, work projects, additional training opportunities, enhanced benefits, and more.
As the baby boomer generation continues to get closer to the retirement age and slowly phase out of the workforce, ageism will become an increasing factor in whether or not older professionals will be given the same opportunities as younger workers who are just entering the workforce for the first time. It’s important to remember that ageism doesn’t just affect the old, it can also affect younger professionals as well. Ageism can also have an impact on how younger workers are seen compared to their more experienced colleagues or older job seekers who are competing for the same positions.
How Is Ageism Affecting Job Seekers and Professionals?
Ageism will play an important part of every professional’s life, regardless of the generation they’re in, so it’s important to understand the effects of ageism for professionals and active job seekers. We’ve highlighted some key ways that ageism is affecting all age groups in the workforce or those who are seeking new opportunities.
1. Learning Opportunities Are Offered To Younger Employees
One of the ways in which ageism is affecting job seekers and professionals is that more learning opportunities are being presented to younger employees. There’s a stigma that older employees, professionals, and job seekers are more “stuck in their ways.” In essence, this negative stigma insinuates that older job seekers and professionals are less likely to learn new skills to add to their existing library of tools, and it’d be much more efficient to train younger individuals who can pick up the skills faster and then implement them immediately.
Some employers and organizations don’t want to immediately provide learning or training opportunities to older professionals or job seekers, because they don’t see the long-term investment in it. In the modern work world where every single organization has to worry about investments and their return on those investments, companies and organizations are worried that investing thousands of dollars in education and training for older professionals will be wasted when those workers phase out of the workforce in a few years.
Instead, they view younger professionals and job seekers as the better investment, simply because those working professionals will be in their respective industries for a much longer period of time.
One of the key things that clearly indicates workplace ageism is occurring is when those learning opportunities are offered to younger employees and not older employees, or they were initially scheduled for all employees and then reduced to younger employees only at a later time.
2. Being Passed Over for Raises and/or Promotions
The next glaring example of ageism in the workplace is when a professional is passed over for a raise or promotion. Now often times, there are a lot of politics behind the scenes when it comes to receiving a raise or a promotion. Some organizations like to promote based on experience, while others like to promote based on productivity. Some organizations like to give raíces based on competing rates, while others like to give rates based on years of experience.
Unfortunately, this is one of the most challenging cases to make when you’re trying to highlight ageism in the workplace because it can be easily denied or covered up with a few excuses here and there. Being passed over for raíces or promotions based on your age does happen though, and if it happens quite frequently, but to be safe you should always ask your superiors if there’s something you could have done better to ensure you’re considered for a promotion in the future.
3. Being Passed Over for Challenging Tasks or Work Projects
The next potential example of ageism in the workplace for job seekers and professionals is when they are being passed over for challenging tasks or workplace projects. Often times, members of the same team or division within an organization will rotate who gets to lead an assignment or task. If you find that you’re not given the same opportunities as your younger co-workers, or companies are hesitant to give you the ability to lead tasks based on your age, then chances are that you’re experiencing ageism in the workplace.
Another example of this in the workplace is when you’re often given repetitive tasks or tedious responsibilities, while the more exciting opportunities are passed to younger employees and younger co-workers.
4. Being Avoided or Left Out Completely
The next sign that you might be experiencing ageism in the workplace or as a job seeker will come when you are being avoided or left out completely based on your age. Sometimes younger co-workers or professionals won’t invite their older co-workers out to social gatherings or fun group events because they believe the older individuals wouldn’t find them exciting or that they’d drag the mood down.
In other scenarios, they might assume that older professionals wouldn’t be interested because they have other responsibilities like caring for their family, etc. In some cases, older employees might be left out of other company tasks, gatherings, or group meetings like client meetings or company-wide bonding activities.
5. Rude Comments or Remarks Regarding Age
The next sign that there is potential ageism going on in the workplace for job seekers or professionals is when there are rude comments or remarks being made regarding someone’s age. Often times these comments are rare, but every now and then one might slip through the cracks and sneak out, or co-workers will say something when they believe you’re not listening or you’re out of ear-shot. Another example might be when someone says a joke to try and be playful, but it becomes a recurring theme amongst your co-workers or it gets repeated often.
These types of comments can be simple things like remarking about how you should worry about your retirement coming soon, or how you weren’t as young as you used to be, or even rude remarks about how they can do things faster because they’re younger. You might be surprised at how often some of these comments are made and you didn’t realize it.
Are There Regulatory Protections In Place To Prevent Ageism In The Workplace?
The short answer is yes, but it’s far more complicated than just a short answer. The truth to the matter is that there are protections in place to handle ageism in the workplace, but some of these protections don’t work properly or they quite simply don’t go far enough to ensure fair opportunities.
For instance, there isn’t much education about ageism in the workplace, so not many individuals know that it can be something they can fight against. Not to mention, it can be very difficult to prove that there is definitive ageism in the workplace and that you’re being penalized because of your age. Instead, many organizations and employers will try to prove that there was no ageism and that their decision-making has been solely based on performance or acquired skills.
In addition, some of the protections and regulations don’t offer any protections for younger professionals. Currently, the legislation only states that there can be age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. This means that there are no protections for those individuals who are being discriminated against when they’re younger, even if they have more skills or experience than older professionals in certain aspects of their roles and profession.
Facts About Ageism in the Workplace
There are some alarming facts about ageism in the workplace that you should be aware of. Ageism in the workplace isn’t something that you should quietly brush aside, as it can have lasting consequences throughout your career.
1. Between 15,000 to 25,000 Ageism Claims Are Filed Each Year
One of the most alarming things that you should be concerned about when considering ageism in the workplace is that it has thousands of reported cases each year. Ageism in the workplace largely goes unreported because many individuals just think “that’s the way it is.” But that’s not to say that there aren’t many cases reported each year. According to the EEOC, roughly 15,000 to 25,000 ageism claims are filed each year.
2. Ageism is a Common Problem for Many Workers
In a study published by the AARP, ageism in the workplace was a major problem for a large percentage of workers. They noted in their study that roughly 95% of workers see it as a common occurrence in their daily work routine.
3. Workers Believe Their Age Puts Their Job At Risk
Another major concern that many professionals and job seekers worry about on a daily basis relates to the risk they have regarding their job. Many workers believe that their page will put them at an increased risk of losing their job to younger workers because they’re aging.
4. Ageism Affects Self-Esteem
Many aging professionals and job seekers are doing all they can to adjust their physical appearance to avoid facing ageism in the workplace. One recent study regarding these physical augmentations linked ageism with lowered self-esteem amongst older professionals. The last thing an experienced professional or job seeker should feel is a lower self-esteem because they’re worried about how they look when applying to or working in a job they’re passionate about.
5. Ageism Affects Every Age Group
One of the largest stigmas around ageism is that it only affects older workers, and that’s simply not true. As we’ve highlighted earlier, ageism affects every age group differently, and some of the protections in place don’t go far enough to protect every professional in the work world right now.
6. Ageism Isn’t Really Covered By HR Departments
Another glaring fact that you should be aware of when considering ageism in the workplace is that ageism isn’t one of the hot-button topics that HR departments cover when educating their workforce or ensuring that fair hiring practices are taken place. Human resource professionals have so many things to worry about when screening, evaluating, hiring, and working with professionals, that they don’t really consider ageism at the top of their list.
This means that ageism isn’t one of the top topics that they educate their workforce about, and it’s one of the main reasons that there isn’t much education regarding the protections or steps that can be taken to reduce ageism in the workforce.
How You Can Conquer Ageism In The Workplace With Your Resume
There are several things that you can do to help combat ageism in the workplace with your resume. If you’re worried that you’re facing ageism in the workplace because your resume is outdated or it can be improved, we’ve identified several key ways that you can ensure you don’t let ageism affect your career.
1. Highlight New Skills and Technologies On Your Resume
One of the best ways to defeat ageism in the workplace and during the job search with your resume is to highlight new skills and technologies on your resume. One of the biggest things that can detract your resume from being considered is by listing outdated skills that are no longer relevant or have been replaced by more superior skills and methodologies.
Instead, take the time to update your resume with new skills and technologies that you’re familiar with using. One of the best ways to identify skills that are in demand or identify technologies that you should list on your resume is to review the job description to see what skills and technologies they are looking for. Chances are you’ve been using those new skills and didn’t know it, or you have experience in similar technologies that you can translate in a new role.
2. Focus On Conveying Skills and Not Dates
The important thing to remember when you’re crafting a resume is that you need to highlight the value you can provide to an organization. One of the best ways to prevent ageism from affecting you in your job search and your resume is to make sure that you emphasize the skills you can bring to the organization and employer. While listing employment dates is important with each position, you should drive the focus on the skills sections and achievements with each role you’ve held in the past. Drive home talking points about how you’ve used critical skills that would make you a valuable asset to their organization.
3. Remove Older Skills or Outdated Language On Your Resume
The next thing you should consider doing when reviewing your resume is to make sure that you remove older skills or outdated language. It used to be a common resume tactic that you should list skills like, Microsoft Office, Time Management, etc. Unfortunately, while those skills are important to have, it’s no longer proper resume etiquette to list them on your resume. Instead, you should focus on listing current skills that you have. Don’t use other outdated language techniques on your resume, as they can unintentionally create an age bias before you even get to the interview stage.
4. Continue To Invest in Learning New Skills for your Resume
The next thing that you can do to combat ageism in the workplace with your resume is to continue to invest in learning new skills to help bolster your resume. It’s important to remember that as a working professional, one of the best ways you can set yourself up for success is to always be looking to learn new skills and technologies to add to your tool kit. Make it a priority in your career to continue to invest in learning new skills so that you can bolster your resume and showcase the value you can provide employers and new organizations.
We Can All Conquer Ageism In The Workplace
There are several things that every single professional and job seeker can do to help us eliminate the stigma around age in the workplace, and all it takes is a few simple steps during our normal routine. It’s important to remember that we can all conquer ageism in the workplace. The first thing that we can do is to remove the stigma around age in the workforce.
Age doesn’t define someone’s capabilities for a new role or new task. Age doesn’t define whether or not they can learn new skills or new trades. In addition, we should take action if we find that there is ageism taking place and speak out about ways that we should change our thinking to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. Finally, everyone should continue investing in themselves and continue to make it a priority to grow and develop throughout their career, so they can stay on the cutting edge of the work world and ensure they don’t have to battle ageism throughout their career.
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