5 Real Stories of People Who Have Faced Ageism
Ageism is one of the most pervasive forms of discrimination in the workforce today, but it’s also among the most under-the-radar — some even go so far as to say it’s the “last socially acceptable prejudice.” However, there are a number of anti-ageism advocates out there determined to change that. Among them is Nancy Fingerhood, founder of I, Too, Am Qualified, a blog that spreads awareness of ageism in the workplace and amplifies the stories of individuals who have experienced it.
“When my position and several [other] positions (mostly elderly employees) were eliminated, they had us sign a statement that we would not file for age discrimination or we would not receive our severance package,” reads one story — and sadly, there are many others like it. Here are a few examples.
All photos courtesy of I, Too, Am Qualified.Start Slideshow
Lost After Layoffs
“Laid off when the company lost a contract renewal. After four years of pumping out customized resumes and individually-written cover letters and following all the other job search advice, I’ve gotten only a handful of interviews and zero offers in spite of my Master’s degree, PMP credentials and years of experience. I have never filed a complaint or contacted an attorney because I had no way to prove or provide direct evidence of age discrimination. Even recruiters I’ve called tell me 'Don’t even try to get a job — start a business instead.'”
Struggling to Get By
“My husband is a talented software engineer who keeps up with all the latest languages and tech. He was a VP when he was laid off in 2012 just before the company was sold. He has struggled to get interviews ever since for anything even close to what he’s qualified for. I’m convinced it’s because he’s 65. His skill level and experience never seem to be as attractive as whatever kids just out of school bring to the table… which is what? Maybe it’s that young and inexperienced equals less pay. His previous executive salary would be great [because we] would honestly be grateful for a steady income from software tech at this point. We’re getting by on his small SS and my $13.50 an hour.”
Going It Alone
“I finally was able to get my BS in Marketing the year I turned 48. I graduated from a four-year program in two and a half years, with honors. I could not find a job. An industry that told me I’d never 'be' anything without a degree refused to let me back in after I got my degree because I didn’t have 'recent' job experience (I took a less stressful 40 hour job during the two and a half years I was in school so I could focus on studies). After serious job hunting for six months, where I found that I could get interviews when I didn’t list my 20 years’ experience at a non-profit, but when they SAW me, immediately went 'a different direction,' I gave up. I started my OWN marketing business, and am overwhelmed with clients who are over 45 and starting their own business because they can’t get hired elsewhere. It’s interesting that it’s been 50 years since this law was put in place, and we are seeing more and more discrimination. I may be over 50, but I am talented, driven, reliable and loyal. My clients see that, and that’s what is important now.”
Hiding Who You Are
“I’ve tried every way that I know to hide my age on my resume. It’s very difficult to do that. And if you actually get an interview, then it’s all over. I talked with a friend of mine that’s an Executive Director of a nonprofit. She said in hiring situations, she saw over and over again that the hiring team would always pick a younger person rather than an older. And she said they tended towards men rather than women – even the younger women on the hiring team preferred younger men.”
"Young in Spirit" or Just Young?
“A vacation rental company advertises for 'young people' to join their team. I emailed to let them know it is illegal. They responded that they meant 'young in spirit.'"
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