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Keywords in job postings could mean older workers don’t need to apply


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Ageism in the workplace is becoming a hot topic lately, especially as more Americans choose to work longer, as GOBankingRates previously reported. This choice is often made out of necessity to pay bills or to receive full Social Security benefits.

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Although ageism is illegal in the hiring process and when it comes to workplace conduct, 78% of older employees said they had experienced discrimination because of their age, according to a December AARP survey. 2020. As CNBC notes, this is the highest percentage since AARP began asking this question in 2003.

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Over 40? You may face barriers to employment

There are established guidelines for conduct under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) that protects workers aged 40 or older, but that hasn’t stopped some employers from s get away with illegal behavior. For example, ADEA states that any job advertisement cannot “contain terms and phrases that limit or discourage the employment of older persons.” Yet many employers are now using veiled language in job advertisements to imply that older workers don’t need to apply.

As Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research notes, some examples may include looking for “energetic” (i.e., younger) candidates, or stating that they want candidates who don’t have more than a certain number of years of relevant experience (i.e. if you have more than 20 years of experience, go your way). Perhaps the message refers to new technology platforms that older job seekers may not know about and are intimidating.

The Center points to a recent experiment conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University of California, Irvine in which they posted 18 fake job ads in 14 US markets, including top job markets like New York and San Diego. The bogus positions were looking for security guards, administrative assistants and retail workers. In half of the ads, the researchers used neutral language. In the other half, they used the kind of overt language that AARP called “ageist.”

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Study results indicate that older applicants are hesitant to seek many jobs

Overall, the researchers found that older job seekers were much less likely to apply in response to job postings containing ageist terms.

“Language in job advertisements tied to ageist stereotypes, even when the language is not overtly or specifically age-related, deters older workers from applying for jobs,” reads in part an introduction to the research paper. .

Whereas before an employer could reject an application attached to a job seeker they deemed “too old” for the job, today many people over the age of 40 don’t even apply. Following their findings, the researchers called on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to strengthen policy enforcement and provide more guidance to employers outlining acceptable hiring and recruiting practices. .

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As the job market rebounds from the pandemic, with more vacancies available (about 10.7 million at the end of June, as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), that age — and experience gap — could become increasingly important.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years of journalism with signings to Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The AV Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her pets and is working on a first historical fiction novel about World War II. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College in Chicago.

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