26 July 2008

Boomer Woman Employability

Ageism on the job search. Most of us have a vague sense that age works against us when we apply for work, and another vague sense that employers cannot ask us how old we are. (Actually, they can.) When is age a factor in discrimination? Basic guidance is on the EEOC website. Most of us aren't looking for a legal definition, of course. We simply want some assurance that age isn't all bad, that it's not going to deny us the opportunity of an interview.

Boomer-past. The boomer women of my cohort (birth years 1946 to 1956) can claim a history of vague sense of discrimination. As young women, we were sometimes literally told, "you might be taking this job from a man who needs it." And the threat of pregnancy (yep, threat) prompted comments like, "how do we know you won't get pregnant?" By the '70s, those comments were dying out, but that doesn't mean they weren't still in the thoughts of employers. With this history, it's no wonder we now carry the vague worry of ageism as we change careers or determine we need to go back to work.

Older-worker-friendly companies. If you don't mind calling yourself an older worker (generally considered to be 50+), you'll find some employers explicitly welcoming you. AARP publishes a list of such corporations, calling them the National Employer Team (enter that phrase on the AARP search bar at the website). Federal and state governments are also increasingly encouraging applications, hoping that entering-boomers will replace, yes, retiring boomers.

On a personal note: In making a change in employment in 2008, I was pleasantly surprised that my age was not a detriment in getting interviews or job offers. My experience (in online education) was the major advantage and, frankly, one that has increased with age as I have enjoyed some positions that are not typically afforded to younger employees. I even have found myself uttering, old broads in distance learning actually have value. But I still don't broadcast my age on my resume.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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