The Age Advantage

Age discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, persists in our society. Like other forms of discrimination, the best way to confront age discrimination is through advocacy and educating others.

There are a number of potential stereotypes mature workers face or perceive that they face, such as: older workers are out of date when it comes to technology; older workers are set in their ways and don’t want to learn new things; older workers will take more days off due to illness or injury; older workers won’t take direction from younger bosses; older workers are over-qualified and will demand too much money.

Toiling through a challenging job search, it is common to begin focusing on the negative stereotypes. Instead, confront potential assumptions through positivity about what mature workers bring to the workplace. Use your job search tools such as your 30-second bio or your cover letter to surprise people and dispel these negative myths by highlighting a strength that contradicts these negative assumptions. For example, you may cite your excellent attendance in your previous job, which both shows your dedication as well as contradicting the assumption that older works may take more time off due to illness. You may also mention that you believe in life-long learning, and that you’ve recently been upgrading your computer skills to the latest software release.

The following are a few of the potential advantages of hiring a mature worker:

  • Mature workers may take less time off of work as they likely don’t have the issues around child-care and aren’t likely to take parental leave
  • Mature workers, through years of work experience, bring strong problem-solving skills
  • Mature workers often bring a strong network of potential customers or partners due to their years of experience and engagement in the community
  • Mature workers often come with more flexibility in the job as “moving up the ladder” is often less of a priority than stability
  • Mature workers often bring a greater focus on loyalty, whereas the trend these days is towards shorter stays with employers, or using a job as a stepping-stone rather than a long-term position.

One important point is to not be disparaging of younger workers or hold negative stereotypes about younger workers as that just perpetuates age discrimination. A strong organization will have people from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds which provides a breadth of experience and knowledge. Appreciate the strengths that others bring and do your best to highlight yours.

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