Here’s an excerpt from a story I did for CNBC.com that published this weekend. Click above to read the entire piece.
Older Americans struggling to overcome age discrimination while looking for work face a new enemy: their computers.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently opened a probe into allegations that ageism is built right into the online software tools that millions of Americans use to job hunt.
Separate research published recently by the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank found that in a widespread test using fabricated resumes, fictional older workers were 30 percent less likely to be contacted after applying for jobs. Fictional older women had it even worse, being 47 percent less likely to get a “callback.”
Online job-hunting tools should be making things easier for older employment seekers, and it can. Indeed.com, which claims to list 16 million jobs worldwide, currently lists 158,000 openings under its “Part Time Jobs, Senior Citizen Jobs” category. Monster.com, which claims 5 million listings, has a special home page for “Careers at 50+.”
In other ways, however, online job sites can cut older workers out….
Meanwhile, in an experiment to see if it could find statistical evidence of age discrimination, researchers created fictitious resumes for young (ages 29–31), middle age (49–51), and older (64–66) job applicants. Then those resumes were submitted to 13,000 positions in 12 cities across 11 states, totaling more than 40,000 applicants.
Age was not listed, but was clearly implied by the inclusion of high school graduation years.
Across several categories of jobs — sales, administrators, even janitors — there was evidence of age bias, the researchers found. For example: Among men seeking sales jobs, callbacks fell to 14.70 percent from 20.89 percent — a drop of about one-third — as applicants age rose from middle age to older.
The study unearthed an even stronger pattern of discrimination against older women, suggesting that group faces a double-whammy of age and gender discrimination when trying to remain in the workforce. Older female applicants for administrative jobs had a 47 percent lower callback rate than young female applicants. In sales jobs, older women were 36 percent less likely to get a call.
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