Age Discrimination in Hiring - Why is it important to recruit and retain older workers?


 76% of older workers see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job!

 3 in 5 workers 45+ have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

 The mature Canadian workforce is aging rapidly due to factors such as longer life expectancy, low birth rates and the aging of the "baby boomers" (those born between 1946 and 1965).  Of these older workers we see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job.

When applying for jobs, older workers may unfortunately experience prejudice and discrimination if you are older than other candidates. This may be unconscious bias, like assumptions that you are overqualified or too expensive to hire, or it could be more blatant, like job postings that state a role is best for new graduates.  Employers, like you, have a tremendous opportunity to design and implement new approaches and strategies to recruit, retain and re-engage older workers.

How has ageism impacted your job search?  Take our poll, click here.

  • Considered overqualified
  • Too expensive to hire
  • Entry level jobs are often looking for young candidates
  • Experience disregarded because it wasn’t recent + Assumption that technical skills are not up to par.
  • Other

In this blog, you’ll learn steps you can take to help overcome ageism you may face when looking for work.

Key Takeaways:

  • Signs of potential ageism in the hiring process
  • Resume tips for mature candidates
  • How to avoid potential age bias in your interview

Older workersBenefits of hiring older workers

  • More loyal and stay at a company longer
  • Skills and experience
  • Established networks
  • Different perspectives and ideas
  • Enabling a successful transfer of your organization's knowledge, skills and experience to your future leaders, as well as those to areas that require specialized expertise;
  • Potentially reducing turnover and costs associated with hiring, training, and orienting new staff, as older workers tend to remain with employers for longer periods, resulting in fewer costs for hiring and training new staff 
  • Building on the networks, knowledge and experience of older workers, thereby adding value to your organization
  • Remaining competitive by attracting and retaining older workers to help address changes in labour force growth
  • Potentially increasing productivity, as older workers tend to have a strong work ethic, work well in team settings and require minimal supervision.

Myth BustersMyths about older workers

  • Older workers are counting the days until retirement
  • Older workers don’t have today’s skills
  • Older workers won’t report to younger managers
  • Older workers will only accept high salaries
  • Older workers are less productive
    • Fact: Intellectual capacity and the ability to perform routine or repetitive tasks are not influenced by age. Rather, research shows that workers who perform the same tasks for a number of years enjoy the benefit of accumulated work experience, which also benefits you as their employer. However, physical strength does begin to diminish with age. Where physical strength is a key component of job performance, a slight decline in productivity may occur.
  • Older workers are quick to retire.
    • Fact: Increasingly, employees do not view retirement as a set event, but rather a gradual process. Many older workers plan on remaining connected to the workforce in some way when they retire from their primary career. Statistics Canada conducted a survey of older workers between 50 and 75 years of age. Among respondents who were currently working, and had never retired (approximately 78% of the sample), over half indicated they plan to continue to work on a part-time basis when they retire.
  • Training older workers, who are likely to leave or retire is not cost-effective.
    • Fact: Older workers tend to be loyal and are less likely to frequently change jobs. This is especially true if older workers know their efforts are appreciated and they are not faced with a mandatory retirement age. Regarding the issue of mandatory retirement, all jurisdictions across Canada have enacted human rights legislation which prohibits age discrimination in employment, with certain exceptions.
    • In a knowledge economy, the payback period on investment in training is becoming shorter for all workers, meaning that spending money on training older workers is likely to be recovered before those workers retire.
  • Older workers are less receptive to training.
    • Fact: Baby boomers prefer working in challenging environments where they can improve their skill sets and careers. A job-related training study of older workers conducted by Statistics Canada shows that the participation rate in employer-supported training among workers aged 55-64 more than doubled between 1991 and 2008. The study also found that older workers were less likely to identify barriers to training.

Signs of potential ageism in the hiring process and potential code words for age bias:

  • Fresh
  • Tech-savvy
  • Digital native
  • Flexible
  • Energetic
  • Active
  • High-potential

Applicant screening-Hiring managers may dismiss candidates who:

  • Graduated over 20 years ago
  • Submit a 3+ page resume
  • Lack social media presence
  • Have an email address that is considered outdated (i.e.

    Find an inclusive employer with work happiness.

    • Research company values to ensure you’re applying to work somewhere with a culture that will help you thrive.

    Modernize your resume.  Format your resume appropriately.

    • 1-2 pages
    • .5” - 1” margins
    • Easy-to-read font throughout, size 10-12
    • Headers in bold
    • Update your contact information. - Name, Email address, Phone number,  City and/or Province.  Example:  Jon Smith | 555-123-1234 | City, Province
    • Deemphasize your education
      • Move your education section to the bottom of your resume
      • Remove attendance and graduation dates
      • Remove details like GPA or coursework
      • List advanced degrees in order of level
    • Tailor your resume to be ATS-friendly
      • An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software used to sort and filter job applications
      • Include keywords from the job description that apply to your background
    • Emphasize your recent experience and impacts
      • Remove jobs you had more than 15 years ago
      • Remove experiences that do not add value for role
      • Describe impact rather than responsibilities
      • Include a skills section
    Interview Process Interviewing - The interviewer may ask:
    • When do you expect to retire?
    • Are you comfortable working for a younger manager?
    • Can you keep up with our company’s technology demands?
    • Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
    • Do you have any chronic diseases or other health issues? 

    How to avoid age bias during an interview

    • Emphasize your excitement for the role instead of your wealth of experience.
    • Express your willingness to both lead and follow.
    • Indicate your ability to be self-sufficient.
    • Communicate your ability to work with different people.
    • Show genuine interest in your interviewer.
    • Use confident, calm body language.
    • Redirect the conversation in the event of inappropriate comments or questions.

    Technology Prove technology isn't a barrier.

    • Download necessary apps
    • Check that your webcam, microphone and audio are working
    • Check your internet connection and make sure you’re not downloading anything in the background
    • Find flattering lighting and angle for your video

    Let's RECAP

    • Understand that ageism exists because stereotypes of older workers are more widespread than the benefits of older workers.
    • Be aware of signs of ageism in job postings, applicant screenings, and interviews
    • Research companies to identify inclusive workplaces that reflect your values
    • Modernize your resume by updating your formatting and content to include relevant keywords and emphasize impact
    • Prepare for interviews by following best practices to counteract myths about older workers

    Please also see the Government of Canada link for more information.  Click here.

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