Experts on age discrimination in the workplace, such as employment lawyer Richard Cohen, have documented its pervasiveness. It's even hitting hard those in the UK. Here, read all about it.
Yes, some in outplacement centers tell me the tragedy they are bearing witness to.
The doors can slam shut as early as the mid-40s.
That's at least in high-voltage fields such as consumer products. Professionals in marketing in brandname beverage companies who were laid off often haven't landed comparable positions in timeframes up to 18 months.
In less glamorous fields such as internal corporate communications and business (as opposed to political) speechwriting, the drawbridge is pulled down and the moat stocked with alligators about age 58. A professional banished from the former has been searching more than a year. One among the latter has been working in a call center for two years.
Even part-time and contract gigs are difficult to be hired for. To expand my skill set, several months ago I created resumes and cover letters retrofitting my background for work ranging from marketing to processing financial transactions.
Of the 10 interviews I landed, the two offers I received were lemons.
One provided for six hours a week.
Another required me to use my own car for regional daily driving. Sure, the mileage was reimbursed. But there were no provisions for installing the new brakes and a stipend toward the new car which would be needed.
That ordeal reinforced for me just how bad things are for the aging professional. You bet, I could "feel" the discomfort of the interviewer when I entered the room. Even if I had had cosmetic "work," it wouldn't have been enough to make me appear under-45. Of course, I had had my gray colored. Get it: Old is never young again.
As an executive coach explained to me, though, certain lines of work, if they are conducted in certain ways, are age-neutral. He pointed to my niche: commercial writing.
As long as I can prospect for assignments remotely and as long as I don't have to meet anyone in person, I could go on and on. However, I shouldn't set myself up for failure by attempting to be hired for a full-time onsite position or even onsite temporary assignment. No, "they" don't want me around.
There are other niches in which demand is high - so high that age isn't a barrier.
Men I know who got the boot when they were in middle management in their late 50s trained to be commercial drivers. Some do that part-time at the low end of the pay scale: school-bus driving. Others took it all the way. They have routes throughout the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic states. Their first year they earned about $27 hourly. After that, they got what they wanted in that sellers' market.
Another open line of work is direct care. No, you don't need any special credentials to apply for that in an assisted living facility such as Sunrise. The entry level pay could be $10.50 an hour. And upward mobility is possible, even without earning any certifications. But you could opt to go for further education. Often there is tuition reimbursement.
A third opportunity is loss prevention. The field has a high turnover. Quickly, the over-50 could go from front-lines security guard to supervisor. After that there are management slots. The starting pay depends on the setting. In a mall in Eastern Ohio, it's $9 per hour. In a hospital in the same area it's $13.50 per hour.
The takeaway is that, yes, age bias is an ugly reality.
But those of us determined to continue to bring in income can get not only work but a shot at climbing the ladder again.
In operating my communications boutique, currently I am landing what might be considered "prestigious" accounts. Those include researching and ghostwriting a book for a medical doctor. Having an executive coach has helped me present myself as at the top of my game, despite my age.
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