Age discrimination can be a real problem for older workers in the workforce (See the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on age discrimination).
A true story about older workers
My friend’s husband got so frustrated with what he perceived as age bias in employment against older workers that he went into freelance work for himself. Fortunately, my friend has insurance that covers the whole family, but it wasn’t an easy decision. He makes money and working for himself has been fulfilling in many ways. As he has gotten older, he finds that he values his time more and some amount of flexibility with his work hours is a nice thing. Still, he preferred the stability of a regular paycheck and job that paid into his social security retirement.
So, how rampant is age discrimination and are there employers out there who hire older workers? To what extent ageism in the workforce exists is a big debate that is beyond the scope of this post. Some advice I’ve come across says it’s mostly in the minds of older workers and all you have to do is change your mindset. Others say older workers should hide their records. For example, avoid listing graduation dates, or your entire employment history (stick with the past 15 years), use a combination of functional and chronological resume, emphasize accomplishments over experience, and so forth.
Some of the advice given to older workers is good job search advice for everyone, such as keeping your skills up to date and jumping into new Web 2.0 social media networking to stay ahead of the game by making it easy for employers find you.
A few searches for age discrimination turned up sites discussing the idea that, rather than older workers, there is real age bias against young people who are new to the workforce. The recent Supreme Court ruling has not made it easier to prove age discrimination complaints, putting the full burden of proof on older workers who allege unfair treatment. The good news is that there are pro-active steps that older workers can take to find the kind of jobs they want and the pay they deserve. These include job search engines, job listings, best employer lists, and federal and state resources for older workers.
Job Listings and Job Search Resources for Older Workers
The AARP maintains an annual list of the Best Employers for Workers Over 50. This will be the 9th year of the awards (new winners are announced in September). Employers submit themselves to AARP for consideration. Applicants are ranked by a variety of criteria including recruitment, career advancement opportunities, accommodation and flexible scheduling, and benefits. They also include an anonymous survey of older employers at the companies.
RetirementJobs.com has a job search engine for anyone over 50 who is looking for a job.
SeniorsforHire.org also features job listings for workers over 50 as well as senior citizens and retirees looking to work.
The cool thing with Retired Brains is that it features part-time and temporary jobs for older workers, in case you are looking to earn extra money vs. re-enter the work force on a full-time basis. Full-time jobs are also listed.
There are also national associations that receive federal government funding to assist older workers with job opportunities, including the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). You’ll definitely want to visit these pages:
Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI)
On our sister site, JobOpportunitySite.com, an article was posted on federal and state job search resources. Did you know there are federally-funded career centers in every state whose mission is to help you find a job. These centers are funded by our tax dollars. Make them work for you!
If you are looking for solid research and policy information on retirement income and the aging workforce and how it affects older workers, there is a great selection of working papers at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
And if you have concerns about working and receiving Social Security benefits at the same time, check out the Social Security Administration’s retirement planner site, which features calculators, FAQs, and links to apply for benefits online for older workers. You definitely can work and receive your benefits–although the amount of your benefits will vary based on several factors (e.g. your age). Check out the site for more details.