Source | FastCompany : By ANNE LOEHR
“I turned 50 and seemed to have been thrown out of the public relations profession, my industry of 20 years,” says Lisa Wells, who recalls having traveled repeatedly from New York to Philadelphia and Boston for job interviews—all without having any luck. Desperate, Wells sought some professional help. But “after going to a head hunter’s office in Midtown to meet a young woman who seemed to be in her pajamas,” she recalls, “I went home and decided to open my own consulting business.”
Her experience isn’t unique. An AARP Public Policy Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that the average duration of unemployment for job seekers ages 55 and older was 54.3 weeks in December 2014—more than five months longer than the 28.2 weeks younger workers typically remain unemployed.
Tom Smith, a 58-year-old marketing executive, says he’s applied to over 2,000 jobs since turning 50. After a grueling 27-month job search, Smith finally accepted an offer for 64% of his previous salary, just in order to secure a job with benefits. Soon afterward, his role was redefined and his salary cut 43%.
According to AARP research, 64% of workers report experiencing age discrimination, which can take many forms—ranging from the overt and individual to the implicit and institutional. (In the tech industry, just to take one example, self-advertised “young, nimble startups” all but tell older candidates to look elsewhere right in their job postings.)
All these forms of age discrimination persist thanks to few core assumptions about older workers in a modern, ever-changing job force. They include:
- Young people invest more in developing new skills.
- Young people feel more excited by their jobs.
- Older people neglect their health.
- Older people get exhausted by their work.
- Older workers are looking to slow down and coast toward retirement.
- Older workers have less interest in exploring new ideas and opportunities.
Yet each of these assumptions—about younger and older workers alike—were shown to be statistically untrue in a study by London Business School researchers Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott.
Groundless biases aside, many organizations may simply not to want invest in people they believe to be close to retirement, preferring someone with more “growth potential.” This is often a fallacy, too. By one measure, some 58% of millennials expect to leave their jobs in three years or less. That figure is high, but it isn’t especially remarkable. For context, a separate study estimated that nearly half of workers worldwide expect to leave their jobs just within the next year. The retention problem is so acute that companies are constantly dreaming up new ways to keep their best and brightest around for longer.