Older Workers' Difficulties Getting A Job Their Own Faults?

This may be an overstatement of the results of a new study reported in today’s New York Times. But not by much.

Face, Portrait, Search, Seeking, Asking

Get out there and network!

The study by a management professor found that people over 50 have a harder and longer time finding work than their younger colleagues.  It was found that it took them 5.8 weeks longer to finds a job than those between the ages of 30 and 49, and 10.6 weeks longer than those between the ages of 20 and 29.  No kidding?

Could it be discrimination? Maybe, says the professor, “[i]t’s very common for everybody to think that the reason is discrimination.”  Not an unreasonable thought.

But the point of the article and the apparent results of the study is that older people on average had smaller networks than younger people, and stay on the job longer – to put down roots – and thereby have skills become outdated.   And therefore they have a hard time landing work.

Is there any evidence of causation, you might reasonably inquire?

The article doesn’t say, even though it is titled “To Get A Job At 50, Make Lots Of Friends In Your 40s.”

No one would dispute that networking and learning new skills are always crucial in job hunting. And the professor cautioned us against jumping to conclusions about the cause.  But she (and/or the reporter) jumped to conclusions pretty quickly: “the reality is that the behavior required to find work does not play to many older people’s strengths,” paraphrases the article’s author.  “Just recognize that some of the obstacles you face are inherent to the aging process.”

“Everybody” knows that older people are also less proficient in pole vaulting than younger people.   Is there causation here?

If there is, “get out my vaulting pole,” job coach, so I can get a job!

Athletics, Pole Vault, Sport

That’s the ticket! The job is yours!

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]