When you’re considering making a move to a new company, it’s a good idea to investigate the culture as you do your research. Because while the labor market is tight, some companies may still be hesitant to hire older workers, says Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TopResume, a career and resume consultancy.
Here are seven ways to find companies that value older people.
1. Start with their website
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a website can tell a pretty comprehensive story about a company and its leadership. Joe Mullings, chairman and CEO of search firm the Mullings Group, advises perusing the website to see whether photos represent a diverse group of employees, including older ones, and how many of the staff and leadership photos are of older workers. Look for signs that the company values diversity in all of its forms.
2. Scout their social media
A company’s social media profiles can give you a peek into its culture, Mullings says. Review Facebook and LinkedIn pages as well as profiles of employees. Does the company have workers age 50 and older? What are the company representatives and employees posting on both the firm’s social media and their own pages? (If this feels odd, consider that the human resources department is likely checking out your social media profiles, he says.) By doing this background research, he adds, you can start to build a perspective of what the office's social environment is like among the people you might be dealing with every day.
3. Look around the room
Whether you’re interviewing remotely or in person, the process will give you an opportunity to meet a variety of people at the company. Notice whether there is age diversity among the employees you observe, suggests Monica Parker, director of diversity and inclusion and community outreach at Bracewell LLP in Washington, D.C. “What age representation are you seeing in the interview process? And then also, how are those folks reacting to you as you're talking to them about your experience and what you think you could bring to the organization?” If the company doesn’t appear to have many workers your age, it may be a red flag.
4. Analyze their recruitment efforts
Many companies are careful about how they present themselves online, and that includes job postings, Parker says. Review job ads for language that emphasizes diversity as well as for references to benefits. Does the company say that it does not discriminate based on age? Is there other language that indicates how much it values inclusion?
“It matters to [employers], that perception, and so I think a lot of them are being very careful about it,” Parker observes. Look at where the company is advertising for new employees. Is it using platforms aimed at diverse workers, including older ones? If you’re working with a recruiter, that person can also give you insight about the company’s culture and whether the organization values older workers.
5. Contact your contacts
If you know people who have worked at the company or who are otherwise familiar with its people and culture, plan an informational interview, to learn more about what it’s like to work there. Your professional network can be invaluable, Augustine says. A colleague or friend may be able to give you insight about how welcoming the organization is to older workers, in addition to other tips about how to break in.
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6. Check the Employer Pledge Program
More than 1,000 companies have signed the AARP Employer Pledge, which affirms that they stand with AARP in valuing older workers and believe that people age 50-plus should have a level playing field in hiring and in the workplace. AARP also vets the companies to ensure they have not had legal action against them related to age bias within the past five years. “The pledge lets job seekers know that these employers want experienced talent,” explains Heather Tinsley-Fix, AARP's senior adviser on employer engagement.
7. Use Google, Glassdoor and other sites
A little sleuthing can also lead to additional insight. Tinsley-Fix suggests using Google or other search engines to look for stories about the company and any history of age discrimination. “We often get our first-level information about the potential that a company has been a bad-faith actor by just searching for age discrimination," she says. "Type the name of the company with 'ageism' or 'age discrimination.' ” Also, company-review sites like Glassdoor can help you spot patterns related to age or other types of bias.
Checking out a company before you make a job change can help you avoid headaches later. While you may not be able to spot every red flag in advance, taking these steps can help you get a better sense of how welcoming the culture is to older workers.
Gwen Moran is a contributing writer to AARP who specializes in business and finance. Her work has appeared in many leading business publications and websites, including Entrepreneur, Kiplinger.com, Newsweek.com and The Los Angeles Times Magazine.