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01 November 2010

Middle Aged and Long-Term Unemployed? Eight Ways to Mitigate Discrimination

Candice Arnold
Oct 22, 2010
Hiring managers want young applicants who already have jobs. Though federal law prohibits agism, discrimination is human nature. Recruiting people who have less knowledge and wisdom, who have the greatest financial obligations, and who least need new jobs seem foolish and unfair. But it happens.
  • During lay-offs, the least productive get booted first, so slackers are over-represented in the market. Employers increase their odds of getting great employees by favoring those with jobs.
  • Being "wanted" -- that is, being retained during a bearish job market -- gives workers perceived value. The challenge of "stealing" employees away from other employers excites some recruiters.
  • Less-than-stellar job seekers have a harder time finding new positions due to their weaknesses, and they often don't look as hard for new work. Employers increase their odds of getting better workers by favoring those recently laid off over the long-term unemployed.
  • The average income tapers off after 45 and declines after 50, partly because of obsolescence and partly due to negative perceptions of mature workers as costing more in overhead due to health problems. 
To get around negative stereotypes of agism and long-term unemployment, consider the following:
  • Were you a less-than-ideal employee? What specific steps can you take to become more valuable? Be merciless in your self-evaluations, but once you create a corrective plan, put the criticism behind you. Failing to forgive yourself saps your energy for the hunt and undermines your countenance during interviews. Adding to your skills and your character adds to your attractiveness as a potential employee and builds confidence for interviews.
  • Were you in the right career? People who love their work produce more, put more into developing relevant skills, and live more fulfilling lives.
  • In investment, diversification spreads risk. The same principal applies to vocations. Do you have a back-up career plan? To what other careers could your skills transfer?  Spend a portion of your time preparing for and pursuing your second choice.
  • Increase your perceived value by either volunteering or by getting a less-than-optimal job*. Employment, even underemployment, shows initiative. Volunteering shows energy and involvement, and it might lead to a temporary job or new career. Both can help you develop skills and can present networking opportunities.
  • Take classes to refresh existing skills, build new skills, obtain certification, get out of the house. Improve your value to hiring managers by proving you're not an old dog who can't learn new tricks.
  • Use a resume style that de-emphasizes your age and status. Consider using a professional resume writer. Which will cost you more: a professional resume, or delayed re-employment?
  • Maintain your appearance. Naturally, you want to groom and dress for success during the interview, but have you considered how your health affects your appearance? Try not to skimp on medications you might need. Boost your energy and maintain your health through exercise and superior diet.
  • Maintain your countenance. 
    • Release feelings that need catharsis in a safe setting
    • Build your spiritual life
    • Do those things (above) that build your self-worth
    • Teach yourself to think positively (even if you don't believe it)
    • As a last resort, pretend you're an actor and fake it.
Middle-aged and long-term, unemployed job seekers increase their odds of successful hunts by understanding why such discrimination happens and then taking steps to prevent those effects.
    * Before seeking or accepting underemployment, check the effects on your unemployment insurance claims. Public Law P.L. 111-205 (see H.R. 4213 or H.R. 4213 ) prohibits states from penalizing under-, temporary, or part-time employment by reducing benefits. Some states, however, have yet to adapt to the new law. 

    Copyright 2010, Richard Wheeler. Permission granted for personal or non-profit use. 

    1 comment:

    1. Excellent advice. Thanks for referencing my article.