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Age prejudice enters the room

Dr Kirstin Ferguson from the SMH tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute?” I’ve added my ten cents as well.

Recently, I was left feeling a bit baffled after one of my job interviews. I have the appropriate training, qualifications and experience in the industry I am seeking work in. After applying for many positions, I got an interview but then, at the interview, they seem to keep moving the goal posts. What do you think older women workers like myself should do to get back into the workforce?

A. It sounds like you have all the skills on paper that you may need but the interview itself was challenging. It is hard to know from your email whether that was due to a mismatch of expectations or whether you were experiencing age discrimination.

It may be worth getting some help from someone who can help review your applications and CV to advise you on any areas that may increase your chances of getting an interview and succeeding in the interview itself. In that particular interview, were you able to get any feedback? I suspect right now the more objective feedback you can get the more you will be able to tailor your approach next time.

All that said, there is no doubt age discrimination is a real issue, and particularly for women. It is a pervasive issue and one that is very hard to nail down or necessarily point to, then and there. It may take a little longer to find the right role for you but hopefully with some external help you will find an employer who values the additional experience and expertise you bring.

Malcolm King’s reply

A good idea to get a professional to review your resume and cover letter but also to have a read of the Discrimination Act. When you walk into the interview room, note the expressions of the interviewers. If you realise they’ve turned off, start making notes because nothing you say or do will change their mind. You’re done because you happened to be born some years before they were. Women suffer less age prejudice than men but who cares? It’s still prejudice.

I tell unsuccessful candidates to check out who the successful applicant was (see LinkedIn). If they’ve got a dummy in their mouth, report the employer to Fair Trading. Consider getting a lawyer to write them a letter stating you’d like to see the interviewer’s notes. I’m all for naming and shaming on social media. Keep this in mind too. You dodged a bullet because who wants to work for wankers?

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