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What You Can (and Can't) Do About Age Bias

Understand your rights, and the attitudes you may face.

Here’s what you can do to avoid or overcome age bias:

  1. Know your rights: Become familiar with the fundamental rights provided by federal and state ADEA laws. You may not always choose to pursue or enforce these rights, but you should know what is and what is not permissible.
  2. Be clear about your objectives: Examine your personal life and work history, and inventory your knowledge, skills, capabilities, and achievements. Consider what you most enjoy doing. Identify specific employers and know the type of job you want. Get some career advice and select the occupation or profession in which you are most apt to prosper. Put all this information down in a clear and concise resume. Your clarity and confidence of purpose will come through to employers.
  3. Be at your best: This may sound a little silly, but look and be at your best. Splurge ona new interview outfit (even if that 30-year-old suit still fits). Be well groomed, maintain your personal fitness to the highest possible level, make sure your health or medical conditions are under control, be well rested, research the employer, and display your knowledge. These tasks should help keep you confident and poised. Try practicing for interviews with a friend or professional coach. Finally, put all concerns about your age and the threat of age bias out of your mind.
  4. Be a continuous learner: Whether you are a candidate or an employee, always grow and learn. This is particularly important for your computer skills and knowledge. The abilities to use a computer, send e-mail, surf the Internet, and handle basic applications, such as word processing, are not optional anymore. Inability to make even basic use of a computer is a cause for rejection in all but a handful of jobs—many of which you wouldn’t want. Buy a computer, set up an Internet account, and take lessons. While you’re at it, get a mobile phone. PC skills and a cell phone are powerful ways to show you are technically savvy and not a dinosaur.
  5. Seek employment and work in the right places: Many industries and employers value older workers. Search them out and apply there. If you’re already working for an age-friendly employer, do everything you can to stay with that organization. Meanwhile, here area few places to start looking for companies who hire and affirm older workers:

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