Career Counseling & Life Transitions: ageism in the workplace

This article describes ageism encountered by older adults searching for jobs or trying to improve their current career position.

“Ageism is one of the most unfair paradoxes in the labor market: People put in decades of hard work and then find themselves penalized for having done so. And the problem is only worsening: Nearly 80% of older workers say they’ve seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, according to the most recent survey by AARP.”

“Even as the economy bounces back from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, older workers are having a challenging time getting re-hired. The percentage of jobseekers in February above the age of 55 who were ‘long-term unemployed,’ meaning they’d been looking for a job for 27 weeks or more, was more than 36%, compared to around 23% among those between the ages of 16 and 54. (Around a quarter of the workforce is older than 55.)”

“Unsurprisingly, the discrimination has psychological consequences. Around 6.3 million cases of depression globally are thought to be attributed to ageism, according to the The World Health Organization.”

“Research shows that older people exposed to subliminal negative age-stereotypes are more likely to perform poorly on cognitive and physical tasks, said Dr. Vânia de la Fuente-Núñez, manager of the global campaign to combat ageism at The World Health Organization. On the flip side, de la Fuente-Núñez said, studies find that individuals with more positive self-perceptions of ageing experienced better functional health and greater longevity.”

The recommendations are to focus on the areas in which you are still growing, realize that what you may be bringing to the table is not in the job requirements list, but is nevertheless valuable, and be prepared for bias and fight it.

Elaine Korngold, LPC at in Oregon, helps older adults re-enter the workforce and regain confidence in how they present themselves on paper and in person. Elaine offers a combination of Career Counseling with Brainspotting and IFS therapies to develop strategies to move forward and process and heal anxieties that come around the job search process. Contact Elaine for more information.