IT Employment

Is ageism a thriving prejudice?

Employers are ultra sensitive to issues surrounding race or gender in the workplace, but the prevailing sentiment seems to be that being ageist is no big deal.

Employers are ultra sensitive to issues surrounding race or gender in the workplace, but the prevailing sentiment seems to be that being ageist is no big deal.  

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The U.S. has made great strides against sexism and racism, but ageism seems to have been left to thrive.

I've been asking TechRepublic members for career situations that they need help resolving, and I've gotten a great response. One fascinating story after another has come to my mailbox. Many of the stories are unique and present interesting challenges, and I will post each of them in the coming weeks every Friday.

However, I have started to see one issue emerge frequently than any others: ageism. I've heard from people who are being offered early retirement -- which they took as a not-so-subtle way of saying, "We don't need you anymore, but here's a going-away present so you don't sue us." And I've heard from folks who can't get a new job after that because they're no longer "marketable."

Many feel they're being shown the door to make room for the young people who will bring with them new, cutting-edge skills, since hiring managers seem to believe that an old dog is indeed incapable of learning new tricks. That's ridiculous. It's also impractical because, in IT, a shop would have to hire in a new group of people every couple of years to keep pace if they really believe tech knowledge is finite. No one can afford that kind of turnover.

And, apparently, the discrimination doesn't end at the exit interview. The hunt for a new job is even tougher. More and more older job hunters are being counseled to stay away from chronological resumes because they could inadvertently reveal their age. And heaven forbid you should mention the year you graduated from school!

So, judging from my mail, ageism is alive and well. I'm just not certain why it seems to be manifesting itself at such an alarming rate. Is it because many companies have younger managers who wouldn't be entirely comfortable supervising someone who is much older? Is there really a cultural stigma associated with older workers that even the law can't circumvent?

Are you guys seeing more of this kind of attitude? I'd really like to hear from a hiring manager who is uncomfortable hiring an older worker, as well as people who've been through a bad work situation that they feel has been due to ageism.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

146 comments
bjchip
bjchip

The issue is real. If I get to an interview usually I get an offer, because I have retained more of my "youthful" attitude towards learning than most folks my age manage. I like the work, like the tech, like the toys and pick up new stuff better than most of the kids with 30 years less experience, even now. What happens is that the interviews don't happen nearly as often. Where I might have gotten 50% or better responses to my efforts to find new work in the past, now it is more like a 5% return. Part of this is money. I don't ask for heaps... just fair and I am willing to spend time on lower pay proving my value to a new organization... which I invariably do. My initial raise in any organization I've ever been in, has been roughly 15% . The frequency of the interviews however, is another story entirely. I am quite certain that there is ageism and it is definitely harder to get new jobs as I grow and learn that much more. It feels BAD. BJ

counterpoint
counterpoint

unfortunately many younger workers and managers bring to the work equation a one dimensional monochrome perspective that is egocentric and ritualitist restricted by the very lack of age and experience that enables them to be adaptible and flexible to meet emergent needs and like a shooting star disappear just as quickly

nmlaney
nmlaney

We're living in an age of the incredible shrinking workforce. Face it, boomers counting the years to retirement are a dime a dozen. The workplace swelled to accomodate the post WWII generation, it's now gearing down, and there just isn't room for all those boomers. As their ranks decline through attrition, productivity will have to increase, but hiring warm bodies to fill unproductive roles will become a thing of the past.

wrlang
wrlang

Ageism, like many other prejudices, is alive and well. There are many reasons for it, not just salary or health benefits. If an older worker wants to remain marketable they need to live WELL within their means and keep themselves marketable by learning new skills giving them multiple choices in work paths. If you're in your 50s and still living from check to check and you don't have a 12 month cash reserve, I guess you're part of the problem. My advice is to spend some time each month making sure if you had to find a new job tomorrow you would be prepared to go job hunting immediately. Get contacts, keep your resume updated, get an id on your industries job sites, take on new responsibilities, learn new technologies in your spare time. The days of life getting easier as you get older are long gone.

portable
portable

You bet. Companies today seem to think that long term planning means the next stockholders' meeting. An older worker MAY cost a little more in insurance premiums and salary, but doesn't have to be taught how to do the job. If I have to go back to work (I retired) I would have to start another company to get anything like a livable salary and insurance.

ancientprogrammer
ancientprogrammer

I'm 48. I used to not have a problem finding new work after the inevitable round of IT layoffs. This last time it took me 6 months to find new work. Prospective employers would bring me in for a face-to-face interview after a successful phone screen and it was easy to tell that my age was a problem for them. They would come up with some BS excuse like "We like your skills but you don't fit our workplace dyanamics." Fortunately, I found a company where most of the other programmers and IT managers were also in their 40's.

BikeIT
BikeIT

Yes I believe that it does exist, perhaps not completely acknowleged by younger people who have moved into to more management roles, but it is there. What we are beginning to miss in many IT organizations is an understanding that people with experience have an ability to mentor regarding how to manage 'something'. Today's cutting edge technology actually needs more controls and processes in place than are being implemented, this is where experience comes in. As an older worker I have a responsibility to continue to learn and continue to be excited about change, as long as we exhibit this type of mentality an organization shouldn't see us as liabilities on the balance sheet.

ToadWiz
ToadWiz

Interesting posts, so far. I doubt mine will break any new ground. Several times in interviews I've realized early on that the interview was over before it started. My resume is limited and MIGHT give the impression I'm 40. However my hair is white and I'm 53. I've gotten so I can tell at the handshake if the interview is over or not. 1998 I was "let go" from a team of HP-UX administrators. In the previous 8 months, I closed 2/3 of the tickets myself. I had received 2 cash awards for excellence and accumulated 15 thank-you letters. I was the oldest and highest paid of the three. Two months later, before I had even completed the severance package, someone else was hired into the position I occupied. In my experience there are plenty of younger folks who know the latest language or system tool better than I do, but they seem to hate to get their hands dirty. It never bothers me to grab a screwdriver, crack a case, and dig into the guts of a machine. I don't stand around wondering who a problem should be sent to - I just fix it. I mean no slight to my younger colleagues. It may be that some beancounter felt it was a waste to have a senior administrator replacing a hard drive. But I maintain that broad experience is valuable, even as knowing the latest tool is valuable. YMMV.

metilley
metilley

If I had $1000 for every time I was denied a job or a job interview because of my age (53), I could retire in Hawaii. It is discouraging that employers are so open-minded about race and gender but are heavily prejudiced when it comes to age. Don't they realize that experience comes with age? Don't they realize that an older worker has seen and lived a lot more than a younger worker, and will bring more maturity and experience to a company? Apparently not. As much as I hate government interference, perhaps the new administration will pass new laws that will severely punish employers that age discriminate. It has to stop.

ackykaky
ackykaky

I was so glad to read your article. I left a job with a well know aerospace company because, as the oldest(54)member of the team, our new director set out to try to have me fired. After spending my Christmas holiday amassing emails and other documents, the plan was foiled. Armed with my notebook of documents,I promised to take my case as far as the law would allow me. That was 4 years ago and I've been told by two recruiters that my old manager (who was the favored son of this new director) said that I had "exaggerated my resume." Since I'm too young to retire, I have had to take jobs outside IT just to make a living but at half the salary I had. I'm still fighting though...I work for an mobile computer support organization to keep my skills sharp and keep sending out resumes that are not chronological or show my graduation date. I also don't fill out the statistical data regarding race, gender etc. Some HR departments ask birth dates on this document.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

As we have seen MANY times here before, newly educated students are facing the absolute opposite issue. They get certs and can't find work because they are not experienced. So they go and get even more certs and college degrees to support it, and they are still 'too young and inexperienced'. so what is it? Are the prejudiced towards people for being too young and inexperienced or are they prejudiced toward people for being too old and overqualified?

schmidtd
schmidtd

Ageism cuts both ways, and the awful truth is that it *IS* based on some realities in the way people behave and age. And remember, younger workers are typically just happy to have a job, while older workers are looking for a little more money and position, so remember the difference between "I can't get a job" and "I can't get the job I deserve!" You should always try to make your judgments on a person's actual performance. You should also strive to get a diverse workforce for the benefit of getting different perspectives on a problem. And of course older people just plain have more experience and knowledge (so do typically deserve a little more compensation) But if you believe people change from what they are like when younger, by definition you believe they are also different as they get older.

johnbarryy
johnbarryy

As the kernal is split further and further into new industries, this leaves the old and experienced ones in the dust. One day, some one is going to be fed up about this and shake the whole Computer Industry at a core level and this 'Lice' of new industries shall be scared into ReThinking about getting rid or those with the experience, skills, and know-how that brought them to the forefront in the first place

delphi9_1971
delphi9_1971

I have a friend who worked for Lucifer Technologies for 30 years. Did he get a watch? No, he got told he would have to relocate to some small down in Georgia after living his whole life on Long Island. When he asked if he could work from LI, he was told flat out No. They knew he wouldn't move, they forced the transfer, not to keep him but to force him out the door. Because this is how they treat their employees, I'll never buy their products!

allens
allens

... they simply write the job requirements so that it is recommended for "new college graduates". It's alive and a common practice. It comes about because the gang in the boardroom seldom understands technology very well, and assumes that what is important is to have "new blood with new ideas". So, I am the ONLY guy in my datacenter who even understands RAID very well, the ONLY guy who can do binary math in my head, the ONLY guy who seems to understand all sorts of BASIC things and common issues that you generally learn within the first couple of years on the job ... because I am the ONLY guy with more than a couple of years on the job. Thankfully, my supervisor - 15 years my junior and himself a recent college graduate - seems to acknowledge that I "get a lot done" and "seem to have an uncanny knack for figuring things out quickly".

stan
stan

Many employers will not even look at a resume for an IT position from anyone over 40. Then they complain that they can't find enough people with the right skills, and need more H1b visas and more (cheaper, younger) foreign workers.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

After moving to South Carolina from Michigan two years ago, I found myself back in the never-ending fun of job hunting. I polished off and updated my resume and sent it out in response to many on-line ads. At first, the format I selected included a fifteen year background history and the years I graduated from high school and college. I kept it concise and to the point in order to confine it to one page and added a personalized cover letter with each submission. Nearly two months passed and I received only a few positive responses. I had a few interviews and a few offers but none that I was truly interested in enough to accept. I then restructured my resume reducing the work history to seven years and removing all dates that would give away my age. Surprisingly, several of the companies, that showed no interest before, now sent back responses and requests for interviews. I decided to focus more strongly on ability rather than perceived experience and since I always interview well in person, I received offers from every interview I had. I also believe it has something to do with being lucky enough to look younger than my actual age. Whether on the phone or in person, friends and colleagues say that I sound and look like someone in their mid to early 40's rather than the 52 years I actually am. I have now been at the same employer for over a year and no one here, other than HR, seems to know my true age. I think I'll try to keep it that way. I believe that companies either consciously or sub-consciously think of the following when it comes to selecting an older prospective employee: 1. Less ability to adapt to their way of doing things. 2. Less energy and enthusiasm. 3. Less desire to grow and advance within the company. 4. Less ability to learn new skills ("...can't teach an old dog"). 5. Less ability to fit in with a younger staff. 6. More insurance risk. 7. Higher or unrealistic pay scale expectations. If a hiring manager loses sight of the advantages that can come with age and experience, and gets hung-up on perceived disadvantages, they will often send your resume directly to the 'circular file'. Age prejudice is alive and well. Fortunately, us older doods can, by focusing on the imagined draw-backs associated with older workers, often over-come it and still succeed. [edited for blasted typos]

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

...you don't have a shot outside of the help desk--which is downright insulting to an IT pro. Ageism is alive, it's real and HR and hiring managers don't even realize that they're doing it. They always use the "overqualified" label to get away with this crime. I think most hiring managers are intimidated by the fact that this "old foagie" might take their job one day not knowing that if he wanted it, he would have already had it. That's why my 10 year plan includes getting into IT Management.

bayside9
bayside9

Is it ageism or new generation scripted managers or getting the most out of your investment. I would say all three play a roll, however as a society we have become more robotic, and tend to follow the unwritten corporate rules. Gone are the days when a manager had the freedom to think out of the box. Although while I am at the age to be affected, as a hiring manager I would favor a young bright mind I could mold at cost effective salary over a person more likely to be set in there ways and more expensive. bsolo@sssiinc.com

bayside9
bayside9

Of course Quite frankly although I fit into the category, if I were a hiring manager I would hire young as well. Why hire a 50 year old when I hire a young, bright twenty or thirty something who I can mold and retain at lower salary rate. It all comes down to the perceived return on investment. In addition the newer generation of hiring managers seem to have trouble thinking out of the box. bsolo@sssiinc.com

douglasalt1
douglasalt1

Yes it is, especially on this side of the pond. The Age Discrimoination Act came into force in September 2006, so this is fairly new concept for employers to get their dear little heads around. Anti-Discrimination Laws started the Race Equality Act of 1964, there are still isssues being raised, e.g. The Assistant Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is suing his boss. The Equal Pay Act (this is to provide for women to be paid the same rate as men for the same work), still not happening. The Disability Discrimination Act of 1996 has really beem taken up in a half-arsed manner, still a long way to go. So we must presume that in 30 years time things will be getting better. This will be too late for me. I have been in IT in various support and analyst roles. Since redundancy after a major restructure I have now had 2?? years of: being ignored from initial applicatiom; asked if I could work for a younger person; why do I want to take a less senior role; not enough commercial experience; too experienced etc. So yes in the wonderful caring 'the Third Way' economy of the UK ageism exists with a vengeance.

wyatt
wyatt

Management across the board is less effective than ever. Lack of planning, inability to manage people, and politics create a situation where the appearance of work getting done is more important than results. Once someone has been in the workplace for a while they are more sophisticated and can see the games being played. Morale goes down because what they can see the illusion. They may be less willing to "bust their hump" because they know that it doesn't matter. Many people are conscientious and feel like if they work hard it will help their career. Poorly run companies allow this mechanism to get the work done. Unfortunately, there is no loyalty to any one person. It's not per se an age issue, it's being exposed and experienced to workplace politics. People that are new to the workforce are willing, as one commentator wrote here, to eat mac and cheese and make sacrifices because they believe there is a social contract and a reward coming for a job well done. The writer also complain that the older, more experienced worker wanted more money. Apparently they believe that experience does not count for anything. Some managers like to have a lot of people working in what appears to be a beehive of activity. They want an army... and that means an army of lower-paid workers. That increases their turf and gives them security. Anyone who can see through the illusion is a threat to them. The threat appears as a proposed solution to the problem. This is where age, reflected as wisdom or experience or honed skills works against you. People need to manage their careers regardless of the company they work for. M&A, layoffs, downsizing happen all the time and the people that get the ax are many times those that are politically savvy and a threat in the workplace. It doesn't matter what the name on the door is, your rewards in the workplace come from your immediate supervisor. If your supervisor or their manager is weak... and political, you're in trouble. Don't make any suggestions for improvements, just keep your head down and look busy. There are still many good companies out there, but they don't have turnover or morale issues. When you are interviewing always ask the question "Why do you need this slot filled" and "what happened to the person that was here before me". It's flattering to be interviewed but always keep your guard up. Is it performance they are after, or do they just need a warm body? If you are experienced, and can fix a problem in a hour that takes an apprentice weeks to fix, or maybe even that they can't fix... you would think that your performance would be appreciated. In fact, it is quite the opposite in a poorly run company. It makes everyone else look bad. Have you ever heard "slow down"? Merit is not always rewarded. Many times I have discovered that fixing a problem quickly is not what the boss wants.

jmacsurf
jmacsurf

I have hired several mature workers over the last 5 years without prejudice to their age, however, and this is just my personal opinion, I find they are slower to grasp some of the emerging technologies than their younger counterparts. Older IT workers are usually not my star performer. That said, younger people should be less complacent in that they need to stay competitive in the marketplace. The tireless IT industry has no problem leaving one behind if they don't do their own research to keep up ... Complacency is one of my biggest peeves.

Karras
Karras

I see no demographics, no body of study here, just one individual's opinion, a naive blanket opinion that quality declines with age.

hitech_rednek
hitech_rednek

I consider myself quite fortunate on several counts: Having recently turned 50, after about 20 years in IT and almost 30 years in the full time workforce, I noticed it was getting more difficult to get my foot in the door for interviews...after reading this thread, probably because of a chronological resume that was "too revealing". Fortunately, I am healthy and only look to be in my late 30's or early 40's so I doubt that the appearance of being old was a show stopper. I've changed jobs about 5 times in the last 10 years, mostly not by my choice or anything personal (layoffs, etc.). I recently landed a job with a small internal IT group that supports R&D at a large Pharmaceutical company (corporate IT is outsourced...) where the average age is around 50. They understand that the environment requires experience that is both broad and deep (as opposed to quick and cheap). I hope this one holds up till I can retire, otherwise I will probably have to sell my house, scale down significantly, and start a small business or sell stuff on eBay to survive. At this age and beyond, it's a given that there are few employers who will want me, regardless of experience, attitude, enthusiasm, etc. Sad but true.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

I agree prejudice in all directions has to stop. UNFORTUNATELY, I fear that, like racial, sexual, gender, and all other prejudices, age Prejudice will be shoved under the hat and kept there, exercized by finding any and all other possible reasons NOT to hire that person. They, of course, will not document, discuss, or expose the prejudice due to liabilties... just find some other excuse so they dont hafta directly expose it.

tuomo
tuomo

Interesting you mention the junior supervisor. By my experience I would almost always take a younger boss (not difficult now - lol) if they are any good. The problem (at this age) is that someone my age or even older has his/her own experience which may be less than yours - a conflict which is not always easy. It's like a kind of interesting position in a huge telco, they are desperate to find someone, have been about a year now - the problem, the team leader can't tolerate anyone who might know more than him! I wonder how long they can tolerate him, it really is getting critical to the company, someone will step in or he will burn out.

stinkypoople
stinkypoople

Oh, I think you should start considering 30, you start getting over the hill in this industry, and consider it if you aren't married and have kids many don't want to touch you because you are not stable. So what do you make your choice with an unstable household to get a stable job? This is especially true for women, the older you get the boss doesn't want to look at old hags but some sweet young thing.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

That's neither proof nor even a semiconclusive experiment. If a company gets 2000 resumes, how many are overlooked the first time, not even read? if you had sent the same resume more than once, you probably would have been found regardless of teh change. By the way, that's one of the LEAST sucessful ways of seeking employment, answering job ads (sits at around 2% success rate). Now you listed som every valid points for looking at a new candidate: 1. Less ability to adapt to their way of doing things. 2. Less energy and enthusiasm. 3. Less desire to grow and advance within the company. 4. Less ability to learn new skills ("...can't teach an old dog"). 5. Less ability to fit in with a younger staff. 6. More insurance risk. 7. Higher or unrealistic pay scale expectations. Now, did you reinforce your ability to achieve all these tasks in your cover letter or resume? the idea of sellign yourself is to answer questions before they are asked and remove any doubt from someone's mind before you close the deal, ask for the job. My experience has shown me that I am a self-driven, team player (#2). I find I am able to demonstrate the ability to grow(#3) and bring fresh new ideas to an organization(7) while still conforming to existing company policies(#3, #4). While I am often looked upon as a senior, or even a father figure (#5) to some of the younger IT staff, I find that I work well with younger employees and feed on fresh, exciting ideas (#1, #2 & #4) while bringing a wealth of past experience ot the table (#7). yeah, just don't seem to run into the security risk issue too often myself but as I am a cigar smoker I can't argue that one, however you could iterate your focus on always being at work in case tasks require oyur support and that you have a great workign record with few absences. As for me, I am semi-reliable, never in the office when I should be and take lots of time off each year, usually for week long camping trips and such but I do have issues with acuts pain that takes me out for a few days here and there. But my work compensates for my absence, it seems. okay one mroe tip: Another trick I learned along time ago, is to add a company logo IN COLOUR beside each job listing. It catches the eye and you stand out in a pile of resumes. I've gone to interview where a stack sits on the desk and just from a quick glance I can see the edge of my resume clearly standing out. The hiring manager always seems to pull it out of the pile with ease too. Yes it is legal, you HAVE worked with them and it is a copy of a public logo. The only time it could be deemed ILLEGAL is if you are using it to represent who you currently work with or are using it to show that you provide the products and services of. You are not trying to sell that company, it is simple visual recognition and gets it seen every time!

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Don't count on IT Management to be a solution. Management is facing the same ageism problems as programers or BAs or QAs or .... The only solution is to develop a non-IT fall back. That way if you need to leave IT to find work, you can. It's called Risk Management.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

Cannot forget this excuse: "we've found someone better suited." or "we've found someone who fits in better" Covers any predjudice, legal and illegal. Also better than telling the truth in their eyes... less likely to get sued. ("Looks like he's wearing my father's tie, I cant hire anyone who dresses like my dad"... "Ugh! I see a few white hairs on his/her head, ummm, those white hairs just dont fit in here at Company XYA"...)

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

She/He/They are NOT going to be in the classes you attend, no matter how much you wish they were!!! ;) However, that is the imagery that gets locked into the heads of some, I'm sure!

Karras
Karras

This is so universal...I would like to think there existed a society that respected wisdom and the knowledge of the elders. I fear those days are gone.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

.... you nearly contradicted yourself. By saying; "I find they (older workers) are slower to grasp some of the emerging technologies than their younger counterparts," you show prejudice. That was kinda like saying; "I hire a lot of black people and even though they do good work, black people are just not as easy to train as white folks." ...just my personal opinion.

ancientprogrammer
ancientprogrammer

I'm getting into Internet Marketing ranging from affiliate programs, like eBay and Google Adsense, to creating and marketing my own eBooks and software, to domain flipping and more. I'd recommend looking into this if you want to avoid a significant scale back in your lifestyle. It is funny what you mentioned about looks. I also look young for my age but doing professional hair coloring and botox and the like really don't appeal to me.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

.... I have rarely had difficulty getting interviews when responding to ads. Perhaps it is because my background is so impressive that it stands out so far above the rest. :-) I should add however that it's been many years since I've had to actively look for a job since they always came to me instead. In other words, most moves I made in the past were due to offers that came unsolicited. My goal when applying for my current position was not to continue in management but rather to go for a position with good hours, good benefits (insurance), low stress, good work environment, etc. For the most part, pay was not an issue. If I had been looking for a demanding, higher pay scale position I would have approached it much differently. My post was not meant in any way to be an endorsement for applying for a job in a particular fashion (ie. by sending resumes in response to an ad). My intention was to illustrate a situation that I believe strengthened the idea of age prejudice being real. The fact that not just one company but several had sent letters previously stating they did not 'currently have a position that matched my abilities or background' and then later were jumping to interview me is my evidence. It also shows that many hiring managers typically do not read cover letters and only quickly scan a resume looking for key points. Once a perceived negative is spotted they will often go no further. Therefore when the same person applies later with a slightly different resume, they don't catch it. I believe this is more true the larger the company. ....so many applicants, so little time.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

He commented on weaknesses he sees in young people too, and was just calling it as he sees it, and without prejudice. There's no prejudice in saying old people smell like cabbage, if he has found that old people actually smell like cabbage. Prejudice is hate based without cause. Ex. 'I don't like black people because they are black and I don't like blacks.' He actually stated he finds they work slower, that is a conclusion based on observation and experience.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I always ask why I was not hired, not in simple terms but in an effort to create a dialogue on it. I will explain that I have not been unemployed very often and want to know where my interview skills lack etc. You can usually turn it into something they feel good discussing and they feel like you are askign them for help, they love to talk about their expertise I find. Yuo just have ot be able to create a dialogu and willing to do so openly and without any intentions except to better yourself. Your asking if it was due to your age was a mistake, as you soon found out. In your case, looking for a position between several comapany offices, it is very likely THAT company does prefer younger hires and it may even be to their demographic avantage. But when you say "Whether you call it a prejudice or not," No matter what it is called, you don't have any discrimination case unless you can prove they are prejudiced and don't have a valid reason beyond your age to not employ you. But your example hardly makes it an example of "thriving prejudice".

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

The fear of a Age Discrimination law suit would keep them from answering honestly and may even make it look like you are implying they are age prejudice. seriously though, I have asked such questions in a round-about way. Based on the responses I've heard in most cases, I believe my suspicions were well-founded. At one interview, I pointedly asked if the manager felt 'their current team would have any difficulty accepting an older co-worker.' His reply was; 'to be honest, we have had that concern.' He went on to say that he felt I would be an exception. Whether you call it a [i]prejudice[/i] or not, if they had known my actual age prior to the interview, I think his 'concern' would have kept him from jumping on my application as quickly as he did. Needless to say, I turned down their offer.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Firstly, if someone believes they wont find work due to age, they are right. Defeatism (my new 'ism' of the day) always wins. As I have said before, pessimists are ALWAYS proving themselves right. Optomists are always proving others wrong. I agree with the scannign of letters. That's why mine are compelling and interesting. I speak about what I did to achieve goals at companies I worked for, how they benefitted from my efforts etc. My key way of getting a resume seen, again as I noted before, is to use colour graphics of teh company logos beside each work experience I list. Ex. (TR logo in margin) TechRepublic Senior Editor etc. This is 100% legal, though some feel it is not. UNless you are claiming to represent eth company or its products and services, there is no problen showing a logo to identify past work experience. No gray area or anything, it is just fine and legal. I have had COUNTLESS comments for doing it, recruiters say it is an excellent idea, I worked foro oen recruiter who started to tech it to their students when doing resume writing classes. It IS very effective at getting you seen and the hiring manager will almost always read on. Try it one day, or if you know someone looking for work, pass it on as s tip. They will thank you for it as it really looks sharp and gets results. In your case, I appreciate that your hunt was not your tradidtional style of finding work, but for you to say that these people didn't hire you just because of age is purely assumption. Why nto ask them, "I noticed that your staff all seem to be very young. Is that some thing you seek in a new employees in order to find teh right fit with your existing employees?" They will almost always say no of course, But use it as an ice breaker to get then to discuss what they seek and what they are really digging for. I think you'd be surprised at the results.

jsbell
jsbell

Thanks. I stand corrected. :)

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Give up Oz ... he's got you. Any attempt to profile a person -- age, race, whatever -- by a group he's in is prejudicial. It may be common, it may be normal, it may be based on prior experience, it may even be to the good -- but it is prejudicial.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

You've moved dear OZ from the west coast to the east! Only Quebec has a legal system based on the Napoleonic code. The rest of Canada is English ... in fact, English law up to 1935 is part of our Common Law system. After that it gets blurry.

jsbell
jsbell

Oz, maybe the problem is the difference between the English Common Law (CL) which colors American legal definitions versus the French/Canadian Statutory approach. Under the statutory approach, a right simply does not exist unless the state says it does. Nothing outside the formal definition exists. In Common Law jurisdictions, the courts draw from the deeper wells of conscience, both individual and social, to reduce ambiguities in the formal law, and memorialize that process in decisional law. Therefore, under the CL, prejudice can be formally proscribed by statute, or it can emerge objectively from court-recognized behaviors that produce discriminatory effects, as discovered on a case-by-case basis. Consider by analogy the legal concept of malice. Malice is usually thought of as requiring evil intent to do harm, but this is only a layman's misconception. In defamation, for example, mere disregard for whether a defamatory statement is true or false, without any other mental state, can qualify as malice. Likewise, unlawful discrimination in employment law can result from an explicit prejudice of the kind you describe, or it can emerge implicitly from a functional prejudice that produces a particular pattern of hiring that disfavors a particular class of individuals. However, ageism is still a developing area of law, and ageism in IT is still not as well defined as it perhaps needs to be. Under US law, which was deeply influenced by the CL, there are differing classes of protection, resulting in different levels of scrutiny. At the high end, classifications based on race demand the most severe scrutiny - the proponent of the classification must prove there is a compelling need of the state, without viable alternatives, driving the classification. At the low end, the proponent only needs to demonstrate a rational relationship between the classification and the context in which it is to be applied. Constitutionally, ageism comes in at the lower end of the scrutiny spectrum. However, states may enact laws that create more rights than the federal system, and the federal system has enacted the ADEA, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which provides an additional boost to the rights of older workers facing prejudice in the workplace. In general, it is unlawful to discriminate based on age (and pretty much any other classification) if the difference in treatment is not provably based on a bona fide requirement of the employment. For example, you can disqualify someone with bad eyesight from being a commercial jet pilot but not from being a lawyer, because the pilot must be able to see, whereas the lawyer has many alternative means of doing what good eyesight makes possible. Likewise, with age, much of the employer treatment of the aged is based on stereotypes rather than bona fide requirements for the job. In IT, I have now seen two significant examples of older workers (this is a hoot because I am one myself). One of them was technologically behind, unproductive, etc. The other is the recognized high producer in our present group (he doesn't spend his time arguing points of law with the TechRepublic crew). What's the basis for the difference in these two employees? Not age, but attributes exaggerated by a lifetime of habit formation. The one guy was probably hard to get along with even when he was young. The other has a work ethic that doesn't know how to quit. Statistically, both of them suffer from reduced probability of employment simply because of their age. Is that right? Not in my book, and not in the light of the principles of fundamental fairness that inform the US legal system as derived from the CL. Ageism (and other stereotype-based prejudice) is bad because it blinds us to the real differences between people and the most effective way to cope with those differences in a civilized society. Ageism in the US is illegal when it runs afoul of the ADEA. And ageism is immoral when it unjustifiable prevents otherwise qualified workers from losing the power to earn a living, simply because they have white hair and wrinkly skin. Age after all is just a disease, and if we ever find a cure, we will eventually come to regret the short-sighted stereotyping in which we are presently engaged.

jdclyde
jdclyde

And in the psych classes I have taken, they have said the same. As you age, the way and rate that you learn new things slows down. This is the reason they say the best time to teach someone multiple languages is around 3 to 4 years old. They are like sponges.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

I read your entire posts several times as I always do. I admit that I often have a hard time deciphering them since there is seldom much thought or effort put into them. But regardless, I try to make heads & tails out of what you are trying to say and take the entire post into account along with the apparent intent behind it. Too bad few here can say the same about the majority of [b]your[/b] replies. But, hell, keep tryin'. You may get it right eventually. Try slowing down a bit before you start typing. I'm so sorry you feel I missed or misinterpreted something. ;-)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Obviously not. You read a few lines, deduced what my intention was and countered it with irrelevant comments that were already clearly addressed in my last post. If you did read it would clearly see how PERSONAL opinion does not come into play in this case. You need some pretty solid proof to claim that it is prejudice. In fact, if you were to tag a specific company name with such a comment, you would be found libel of defamation. In the case of accusing a company of ageism, it becomes a legal definition of PREJUDICE that is the concern, not opinion, not Mirriam websters, not what the homosexual community feels or anuthing else, company's are regulated by law. Discrimination in teh workplace is subject to law, and that's EXACTLY why I explained as much the first time around and exactly why I also provided teh legal definition of PREJUDICE as supplied by teh University of British Columbia's Law Library. I am unabel to link to the definition because it requires an account at the law library. Make of it what you will, but you cannot argue that a legal definition will be superceded by several other dictionaries in a court of law, and once again, this IS a matter of law and nothing but.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

it is much broader than you think. Often, personal opinion does = prejudice. [b]Oxford English Dictionary:[/b] [b]prejudice[/b] ? [b]noun[/b] 1. preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or experience. 2. unjust behaviour formed on such a basis. 3. [i]chiefly Law[/i] harm that may result from some action or judgement. [b]Merriam-Webster Dictionary:[/b] Main Entry: 1prej?u?dice Pronunciation: \pre-jə-dəs\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae- + judicium judgment ? more at judicial Date: 13th century 1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights; especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims 2 a (1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b: an instance of such judgment or opinion c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics [b]Cambridge International Dictionary of English:[/b] prejudice noun [C or U] an unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling, especially when formed without enough thought or knowledge: Laws against racial prejudice must be strictly enforced. [+ that] The campaign aims to dispel the prejudice that AIDS is confined to the homosexual community. He claims that prejudice against homosexuals would cease overnight if all the gay stars in the country were honest about their sexuality. prejudice verb [T] 1 Someone or something that prejudices you influences you unfairly so that you form an unreasonable opinion about something: His comments may have prejudiced the voters against her. 2 FORMAL Something or someone that prejudices something else has a harmful influence on it: The fact that you were late all this week may prejudice your chances of getting a promotion.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

We are talking about employment and hiring staff, which is regulated to a set of rules and standards. If someone steps outside of those rules or standards it must be seen in definitive terms on a legal basis. Therefore "A forejudgment; bias; partiality; preconceived opinion. A leaning toward one side of a cause for some reason other than a conviction of its justice." The legal definition of prejudice describes prejudice as being preconceived without just cause, simply a preconception based on nothing. But if there is a valid and identifiable reason someone has formed a preference, it does not become a prejudice to others. The poster also did not say ALL older workers are slower.... The poster said that, 'from his personal experience he found.....' That's pretty fair, honest and open if you ask me. it's like me saying I don't hire peope with long hair because it gets caught in machinery. Well not all long hair will be caught in machinery, but a lot of it does. therefore I do not have a prejudice against long hair but simply have found it is not suitable for the position i have available. It was his personal opinion formed on his personal experience and was provided as a personal opinion, clearly without prejudice. It isn't prejudicial prejudgement, it is personal opinion based on personal experience.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

A prejudice is often an over-generalization against a group based on the behavior of a cross-section. Saying that older workers are slower to grasp some of the emerging technologies than their younger counterparts, would only be true if ALL older workers are slower than ALL younger workers. Otherwise, it is a prejudgment based on limited examples and therefore a prejudice. The same goes if someone said ALL younger workers are more complacent. Prejudice is not always a 'hate' issue and can often be merely a preconceived opinion based on experience even though that experience may be limited.