Is Age Discrimination a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?


A December 28 article in reported that almost 40% of those in the employment market believe that their age rather than economic forces is keeping them from landing a new position. Another 6% feel that other forms of discrimination are presenting obstacles in their search. But as John A. Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas (a global outplacement consulting firm in New York) points out: “Age is typically a self-made obstacle. There is no doubt that age discrimination still exists, but the rate at which people over 45 are finding jobs is not consistent with a widespread problem. The problem we find with many older job seekers is that they enter the process with preconceived, negative notions about their age and employers’ reaction to it, and it seriously affects the way they perform in an interview.”

I agree with Mr. Challenger, and believe that drastic measures used by some to disguise age in executive resumes is counterproductive. Is age discrimination in executive employment real? To a certain extent, but assuredly not at the level imagined by some executives. For accomplished and capable individuals, any minuses in the prospective employer’s perception that could be attributed to the age factor are generally counterbalanced by the pluses of maturity, experience, and leadership skills that are not to be found in younger candidates.