Is it really harder to get a job when you are over 50?

Bias against mature-age workers is so entrenched, employers can’t even be bribed to give them a break - a bizarre situation when the people at CEO level and on the boards turn a blind eye to discrimination against their own age group.

Late last year, it was discovered that the Federal Government’s offer to employers of $10,000 for each person over 50 they hired (if they had been unemployed more than six months) had only reached a paltry five percent of the Restart scheme’s target. Astoundingly, employers had turned down free money.

More than 50 per cent of all ASX 200 board directors are aged over 60 and the average CEO is a 54-year-old man. They know it takes almost twice as long (67 weeks on average) for someone 55+ to get a job than it would if they were younger.

Do the people running these companies have no say at all in the recruitment praises of their staff?

Director and co-founder of career transition company, Directioneering, Nick Plummer, coaches executives who find themselves “between jobs” and says the difficulty of getting re-hired is determined by two things: how much you are accustomed to being paid and how old you are. Too senior and too experienced become the millstones around your neck.

It may not be fair but the reality is, it also depends on your job description: a mature-age accountant gets a job easier than a mature-age marketer.

The way out of this dilemma is by way of personal connections. While many people shudder at the seemingly self-serving nature of networking, 58 percent of people who pass through Directioneering’s doors get jobs through people they are connected with.

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Co-founder of Directioneering, Nick Plummer says people 50+ have the ability to coach and mentor others

“A lot of what we do here is to train people how to network. And your network isn’t the people you are connected to on LinkedIn, it is the 40 or 50 people you know who are ‘in the know’, who know something about your area.”

Plummer says the strengths of the 50+ generation is their wisdom and ability to coach and mentor others.

People should not lie about their age, but they can disguise it. “It is about the way you look and how much energy you’ve got.”

Don’t go too far back into your early history on your resume. Graduation dates can immediately time stamp you.

While research by WYZA® finds women who are aged 50+ feel more discriminated against than men in the job market, Plummer says he finds mature-age women are more employable than men of the same age.

“There is more of a demand for women in most areas. Some areas are now totally dominated by women, like marketing and HR, and women often present themselves better than men.”

Some people, when they have been rejected for too many positions, cannot help but emanate with resentment - a sure-fire interview-killer.

“Those sort of people are going to be unemployed for a long period of time, unfortunately,” Plummer says.

The best way to overcome the stench of resentment is to get a job seeker out into the marketplace, into a contracting role, so they retain their sense of self esteem.


Daniel Levitin's TED talk on how to remain calm could help you in a job interview

The Australian Human Rights Commission has found more than a quarter of people 50+ experience age discrimination at work, and that a third of those who experienced discrimination while looking for a job gave up searching.

A survey of almost 8,000 Australians aged 50+ in March 2016 by MevCorp on behalf of WYZA® shows ageism is felt most by women, and also by those in lower socioeconomic groups, and those seeking to be in the workplace.

They have often been typecast as wanting to stay in their comfort zone. However, while connecting to loved ones, relaxation and routine are very important to them, they also have a strong desire for independence, stimulation and exploration.

More than half of men and women 50+ feel younger than their age, according to the survey, and nearly half are optimistic about their future. These sentiments peak among 60 somethings and are lowest, interestingly, among those aged 50 to 59. (Perhaps this is while they are still trying to re-enter the workforce.)

Around half of them love to explore new things and more than a third love to keep up to date with technology.

We want to know about your experiences and what you think. Email us at admin@wyza.com.au 

Look out for this series of six articles Fiona Smith is writing for us based on the latest information discovered about the 50+ in March 2016 by MevCorp on behalf of WYZA®

What issues would you like us to cover regarding working life? Let us know below.