Ageism in the workplace


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kathy-birk-grownups-jobNew Zealand’s population – and subsequently its workforce – is ageing. This is by no means a surprise; census data shows that by 2020, one quarter of our workforce will be aged 55 or over.

In fact, by 2031 New Zealand will be home to more people aged 65+ than 15 and under. People are living longer, and younger people are entering the workforce later, making longer working lives a macro-economic necessity. But despite this, New Zealand employers still exhibit ageist tendencies in the recruitment process. The 2015 Workforce Ageing Survey revealed that 40% of older workers have experienced some sort of age-related discrimination in the past five years.

This discrimination tends to rear its head in the form of half-baked excuses. While it’s unlawful to discriminate based on age for New Zealand employers, recruiters will often get around this with excuses such as the infamous ‘overqualified’ line.

happy older business woman working on laptopWe need to change our attitudes on how long a person is expected to work, and more importantly, how long they remain a competent and productive worker. Ageism stems from misconceptions about older workers. The consensus seems to be that older workers lack energy and enthusiasm, are reluctant to accept organisational change, and are more transient than their younger counterparts. While there are studies to show that this simply isn’t true, data alone doesn’t seem to be enough to end the stigma.

What we need, then, is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. New Zealand needs a vocal group of enthusiastic, skilled and driven older workers to set an example, and lead the way for the growing demographic of job-seekers aged 50+.

If you’re one of the 76% of New Zealand job-seekers over the age of 50 who is still eager for a challenging career, there are a few things you can do today to help your chances:

1) Do you have a LinkedIn profile – and if so, is it complete? Your online presence counts for a lot today, and most recruiters will want to look at your LinkedIn profile during the screening process.
2) Keep your CV concise. A lifetime of work experience can make for a pretty hefty CV, but this can be an instant turn-off for employers. Instead, by focusing on the last 10-15 years of your career, you stand a much better chance of making it through the initial screening.
3) Create a Kathy Birk profile. Kathy Birk represents the future of work – where mature workers are valued for their experience, flexibility and work ethic.

Watch the video below to learn more about Bruce McPhail’s experience with ageism in the search for a job.

Click here for a free 3-month Kathy Birk trial, and get seen by employers today!