While looking for ways to maximize my job search, I stumbled across this blog post from the Express Employment Professionals web site. It discusses age discrimination faced by mature people looking for work and how to combat it. The suggestions set my teeth on edge after reading them:
“avoid listing dates such as high school or college graduation, as these can reveal your age”
“make sure that not only your résumé reflects your knowledge of current work trends, but your attire reflects current styles as well”
Telling a mature worker to do this to address age discrimination is like telling a member of a visible minority not to wear a hijab or a turban — or suggest changing one’s name to something less ethnic — in order to fight race discrimination. It does not deal with the discrimination in question, and it makes it seem like age is something to be ashamed of. I’m going to return to that point later.
This advice, along with most advice given by some of these job assistance centers (which I have over 2 years of experience dealing with) is useless. Employers who perform a background check of the candidate’s information (such as employment history, education credentials, and criminal record) will have access to the dates as well. And they will likely not need much effort to work out the math of how many years (decades?) since those things happened. As a result, hiding it is not only pointless it also implies a bit of subterfuge, like the employee needs to hide things to get a job.
I’ve never been one to hide things. I’m open. That’s the way I did things for over 20 years as an information technology professional. That’s why I lasted that long as an information technology professional. Honesty. That’s an admirable job qualification last time I checked, but it seems to be overlooked by things more frivolous like age.
I am 48 years old. I am not ashamed to be 48 years old. In fact, it should not matter that I am 48 years old in order to get a job. The fact I lived this long must imply
a) I’m healthy
b) I made good life choices (ever seen a granny gangster? Didn’t think so)
c) I was, until recently, employed for most of those 48 years.
And, while still continuing with this open disclosure, to any potential employer who is reviewing my resume right now who has a problem with my age, please delete my application. I do not want to work for any company that judges me for how I look, what my skin color is, my gender, how fashionably dressed I am, and certainly not how old I am. I want to be judged, fairly, by my ability to do the job based on the hard and soft skills on my resume. That should be the only deciding factor.
I think the problem some employers have about age is that once you reach a certain age, you are past your “best before” date, like the tag on a loaf of bread. You can’t cut it like the young people can. You are inflexible to change, obsolete, out of shape, yesterday’s news.
What foolish talk. I’m in better shape now at 48 then when I was 38 or even 28. When the elevators in my apartment went out for two weeks, I was one of the few people able to climb over 10 flights of stairs during that time without losing a lung, while people half my age were lamenting on how to get to the 5th floor every day. I can walk for hours. I’m not an athlete, but contrary to the view some employers might have about people in my age group, I’m not hobbling around with a walker either.
I’m still as mentally sharp as when I was in college. As chronicled in previous blog posts, I was able to teach myself how to write programs in Winbatch and design a SAP device description for a printer. I also went to George Brown College and learned Visual Basic at again, 48 years of age. I still got it.
I’ve experienced a lot of things: viewpoints, ways of doing things, the ability to see the other person’s perspective. That makes me a valuable team player, not someone who is obsolete and inflexible.
Old? Past my “best before” date? My best years behind me?
Hah! I am just getting started…..
Thanks for reading!