Age On Your Side

Q: I am a 54-year-old man with a bachelor’s in business administration, and I’ll receive a master’s in management this spring. I have years of practical and life experience but I cannot find a job. Can you recommend a course of action to help me get over the silent, but real age discrimination?
— L. Taylor, Milwaukee

A: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is designed to protect applicants and employees age 40 and older in matters surrounding hiring, promotion, discharge, and compensation. So if you have proof that you have been denied a job because of your age, understand that you do have legal recourse.
Don’t lose hope. New studies and statistics are showing that as more companies are requiring certain expertise to be more competitive, candidates with a wealth of practical and life experience may prove very valuable. According to a recent study from the Society for Human Resource Management, 72% of human resources professionals said older workers provide invaluable experience, 69% said they had a stronger work ethic than younger workers, and 68% said they were more reliable.
According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2012, the 55 and older age group will have increased from 14.3% to 19.1%. My advice: Constantly update your skills, keep abreast of competitive changes in your intended industry through trade journals and industry organizations, and keep an active network of contacts. Also, pick up How to Find a Job After 50 by Betsy Cummings (Warner Business Books; $14.95).