The Harsh Reality of Age Discrimination in the Hiring Process

If you hear the words “workplace discrimination” what comes to mind? Perhaps a retro era? The film “9 to 5”?

Unfortunately, workplace discrimination is still present and it’s often overlooked. If you’re a Baby Boomer or a member of Gen Z, you may be more cognizant of the reality of workplace discrimination. You may have run into skepticism of your skillset or savviness because of a perceived lack of experience that is directly connected to your age.

For Boomers, the assumption is a lack of experience using digital tools and a deep understanding of the target market. For Gen Z the assumption is a lack of experience in the workforce indicating they cannot be entrusted with large responsibilities.

Ageism is unique among flavors of discrimination because while biases against gender, race, or sexuality are aimed at certain groups of people, aging plagues us all–eventually. So if the concerns of those who have been impacted by age discrimination in the workplace do not resonate with you, well, just wait your turn.

The Harsh Reality of Age Discrimination in the Hiring Process

In the 2019 Marketing Hiring Trends Report we explored ageism in the hiring process. We found that Nassau twenty-four percent of marketing job candidates are concerned that their age could be a deciding factor when it comes to the job search process. Boomers, those with decades of experience, are most concerned about ageism, followed by Gen Z—those newest to the workforce.

An AARP study called “Age Discrimination against Older Workers” drills down even deeper into the concerns of older workers. The survey found 64 percent of 50+ workers believe employers see their age as a disadvantage in the hiring process, and 79 percent of 65+ workers feel it hurts them. Just 9 percent think their age is considered a plus in hiring.

Unfortunately, these concerns are credible. In a recent study, Tulane University researchers sent over 40,000 resumés to apply for about 13,000 job openings posted online in 12 U.S. cities. They responded to each posting with three different resumes representing a different age group (i.e., younger, middle-aged and senior applicants). All the resumes had nearly identical skills, but older candidates received far fewer responses than younger ones.

Older workers are challenged not only with biases against them in the hiring process but also because they are experiencing increasing rates of involuntary job loss.

While the situation may feel grim, aging workers are not without options. In the coming weeks we will explore how employers can combat ageism in the hiring process, why ageism hurts marketing programs, and how aging marketers should prepare for ageism in the workplace.

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by McKinley Marketing Partners