Age Bias Increases For Execs, Survey Says

U.S. executives report an increase in age discrimination over the past five years in a recent survey conducted by ExecuNet, an online career-management service for executives. In the survey of 199 executives, 58% say age discrimination in hiring has increased in the past five years, 36% say it has remained the same, and 6% say it has decreased. "These findings suggest that as the baby-boomer generation grows older, age discrimination is showing up more often," says Dave Opton, ExecuNet CEO and founder. "Age bias is not a new obstacle, but it is alarming to see it increase during a period of unprecedented growth in the employment market." Layoffs accompanying the current economic downturn are putting older executives at greater risk for such discrimination, those who were surveyed report. Sixty-six percent of the executives older than 50 say they have encountered age discrimination in a job search, and 65% are worried it will force them into retirement before they are ready. ExecuNet offers these tips if one suspects age bias during a job interview:

  • Understand what assumptions the interviewer might make on the basis of age and counter them with knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm.
  • Demonstrate how your experience and qualifications will be valuable in solving specific problems facing the company.
  • Illustrate your awareness and understanding of relevant technology.
"Overcoming age discrimination is difficult, but not impossible," Opton says. "Executives need to be aware that this bias may be an unspoken issue in a job search and take steps to counter common misconceptions."
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