Age stereotypes and ageist attitudes
See video below: Are Australian employers ageist?
Society today seems to be dominated by youth and beauty, and labels and stereotypes about mature aged workers can be a hidden trap. Maybe it was always like this, but when we were young we thought it was perfectly normal.
Now it seems ageist to us! The media go wild about ‘beautiful young things’. Television programs seem to cater for and star young people. However, look a little harder, and you will see that there are many mature workers involved in every industry.
When you stereotype something, you box it in. Age is a common stereotype. The image of an older worker who is slow to learn, set in their ways, and dull to have around is full of prejudice and stereotype. It is also blatantly not accurate for most people. However, ageism, sadly, is alive and well.
Don’t perpetuate the stereotypes
Nevertheless, let’s face facts here; some older people are indeed slow, finicky, and dull and so fit the description and stereotype of older workers. But so are some younger people! What you have to avoid is falling into the trap of perpetuating that image.
You are looking for work in the 21st century. Workplaces are contemporary and you need to be contemporary also in order to be considered a suitable employee.
- Don’t dress like a 25 year old, and conversely, don’t go to work looking like your grandmother.
- You don’t need to be the computer whizz kid in the workplace, but you must have the appropriate level of skills for your job.
- You can wear your glasses to read, but don’t make a big deal about the fact that you can’t read without them.
Get the idea? Be your best self in the workplace, not some caricature of your age.
You may find the blog post Career Change Strategies Have Changed helpful as a guide to ways in which you may, completely unconsciously, be falling into traps that encourage age stereotypes.
Experience and reliability
However, even if ageism and stereotypes are common today there are ways to overcome these challenges. While many employers seem to favor young workers there are also many employers who welcome older staff members.
They appreciate experience and reliability. You have those qualities in spades. So you have to break free of the stereotypical mold. You can prove that the people who subscribe to stereotypes are just plain wrong. Your challenge is to communicate that you are capable, talented, reliable, enthusiastic, and definitely a person worth hiring.
If you would like to read of some stereotype myth-busting older people visit our sister site, BoomersNextStep, to read and watch interviews with some fantastic Silver Sages, living life to the full, and doing it their way.