June 2, 2017. A day of shock, sadness, and anger for approximately 400 employees of the New York City-based NYC Health + Hospitals network (HHC). On this day, almost 400 employees were terminated from their management positions.
What’s even more shocking is that 86.3% of the terminated employees were over 40. One employee who lost his job, Jeffrey Wallace, 64, filed a lawsuit against HHC in Manhattan on July 5, 2018, claiming that the “terminations were the result of HHC’s discriminatory policies, patterns, and/or practices to target older employees,” and went against the New York City Human Rights Law.
Age discrimination in the workplace is alive and well, not just in New York City, but across the country. A study out of the University of California at Irvine and Tulane uncovered age discrimination when they sent out 40,000 dummy job applications with the “age” of the applicant easily seen. They discovered that for those applications with the ages 49-51 written on them, the callback rate for job interviews was 29% lower than the callback rate for “younger” applicants; for “workers” over 64, that callback rate was 47% lower—companies aren’t even willing to bring older applicants in for interviews.
So what does this mean for older displaced workers?
1, There is no job security after the age of 40, and even less job security if you are in your 50s and 60s.
As loyal as employees may be to their places of employment, many employers won’t hesitate to let them go. Eighty-six percent of the 400 New Yorkers who recently lost their jobs learned that lesson the hard way.
To be prepared in case the unthinkable happens, older employees should begin to passively network while still employed so they can call on those friends and connections if they become unemployed. Setting up a LinkedIn account is a great way to start building up a network to fall back on if necessary.
- Having savings is vital.
Getting laid off can reap financial havoc on individuals and their families. It’s especially difficult for those over 50 who are getting close enough to retirement that they may never recover. In 2014, the average amount of time to find a job for those 55 and older was 54.4 weeks.
On average, it takes anywhere from three to ten years to financially recover from six months of unemployment; that means that unemployment can set workers 55 and over back six to 20 years financially.
This is why having savings is vital. Very few people can survive a year or more with only unemployment benefits to support themselves. At the very least, with unemployment benefits, individuals would want at least six months’ worth of savings to supplement their benefits; ideally, they could use a year’s worth of savings to survive until they secured another position.
- Be prepared to take a lesser position than what you once had.
With age discrimination rearing its ugly head (and companies not willing to give experienced, older applicants a chance for even an interview), for those over 50, the chances of securing a position similar to the one they once held, is rare.
When older, unemployed workers finally get new jobs, on average, they will earn 75% less at their new positions than they earned before losing their livelihoods. Many are only able to get part-time jobs, and 60% give up the search and choose to retire early.
It’s always good to have other skills and certifications in hand, so if new positions aren’t secured, early retirement won’t be the only option. Individuals are never too old to start their own businesses from home.
- Treat the job search like a full-time job.
With so many stumbling blocks in the way, how can older employees who lose their jobs ever hope to beat the odds and once again gain meaningful employment?
For those 400 people who recently lost their jobs, the first thing to do would be to look into professional resume services in New York, New York. Finding professional, local resume services can support aging, out of work individuals through all aspects of their job search (preparing killer resumes, learning interviewing and networking techniques, etc.) and help them land back on their feet much quicker.
The most successful people, armed with revamped resumes and newfound confidence, treat their job searches as full-time jobs. They remain positive and hopeful and get up every morning as though they were going into the office—and they network. And they network some more.
They use social media to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, and they join job boards; they submit their resumes everywhere they can, and they remain hopeful.
Age discrimination is shameful. It hurts hard-working, loyal employees at vulnerable times in their lives when they are looking toward retirement and those “golden years” they’ve worked so hard for. Instead, their worlds are turned upside down— at a time when their experience and seniority should be a plus in the workforce, their age becomes a reason to be let go.
All workers as they age need to be prepared for possible discrimination: realize there is no job security and begin to passively network now; start saving money in case they find themselves unemployed; be prepared to take lesser jobs or start their own businesses from home; and have solid resumes and interviewing skills in hand so if the worst case scenarios happen, they’re ready to job search full time. Age discrimination doesn’t need to hold anyone down if they are prepared.