Recent findings from a survey published by iHire have shed light on a pressing issue in the U.S. job market: Ageism.
The survey, which polled 1,495 U.S. job seekers from 57 industries, revealed that a substantial 33.6% of workers over the age of 50 believe they’ve faced age discrimination during their job search. What’s more, 23.1% of these respondents also reported to have experienced ageism in their workplace.
The modern workforce is growing and currently spans multiple generations of employees including Baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and now Gen Z. These age groups differ greatly in work and lifestyle preferences. However, the varying age demographics interact commonly in modern professional settings. Data shows how older generations of Americans are pushing back their retirement, some are even returning to the workforce. So, understanding and addressing ageism is important for both employers and job seekers.
The data published by iHire suggests that ageism isn’t just a perception; it’s a reality for many. Among those who felt discriminated against in their job search, over half believed they were passed over for a position in favor of a younger candidate — despite being equally or more qualified. Nearly half felt ignored after submitting applications or attending interviews. It’s reported that, even when older job seekers were offered a salary, 22.1% felt they were offered salaries below their worth. This suggests an undervaluation of a job seeker’s work experience.
In the workplace, ageism manifests in various ways — such as younger employees being promoted over more experienced colleagues, to inappropriate comments about an employee’s age. 22.1% of older workers who had said they experienced ageism at work said they “were excluded from certain social events or team-building activities.” This kind of exclusion not only affects employee morale but also might deprive an organization of the experience and wisdom that a seasoned professional can bring to the table.
So, what does this mean for the future of work? As the labor market tightens, the value of every potential employee becomes increasingly important. Lori Cole, an iHire Certified Career Coach, notes that while the market is challenging for everyone, older workers might face even more hurdles.
“To combat ageism and get more interviews, job seekers can try tactics such as removing dates from their resumes and utilizing a hybrid format highlighting their most recent and relevant experience,” Cole said in the report. “However, employers must do some soul searching to ensure each candidate is evaluated based on having the skills to do the job and that their work environment is inclusive across all generations.”
Many of the survey participants offered their own solutions to ageism. Over half of the respondents, or 54.4%, suggested the use of “blind” recruiting tools that make applications anonymous, while 51.9% suggested using more skills-based assessments. The survey also found that 45.5% think employers should provide anti-bias training and 45.5% want employers to promote intergenerational collaboration that can help bridge the age gap.
As the workforce demographics change, and more older Americans either return to work or delay retirement, addressing ageism becomes necessary. If left unchecked, this type of discrimination could damage diversity, innovation, and growth in workplaces across the U.S. Employers and job seekers alike must work together to ensure that age is just a number, not a professional barrier.