Updated: Aug 26, 2019
Many recruiters I have spoken to claim not to act discriminatory when it comes to the age of a candidate in the recruitment process. However, some of them complain that a person is "overqualified" and by that, they actually mean he/she is “too old”. I know it’s a disgraceful perspective, but people have a hard time getting rid of their bias. Recruiters and prospective employers also fall into this gap, and ageism in the workplace remains an issue.
Why is an employer afraid to hire a middle-aged employee?
Personally, I think there is no rational reason for this statement. A mature and experienced person can only benefit the company and is more committed to his/her job because he/she has a deeper understanding of life in general. One explanation could be that companies are likely to consider a possible generation gap.
Companies are not always honest.
Hard working employees who have been working in their industry for several decades have difficulties getting interviews or being selected for a job. Their incredible experience is overlooked and potential employers are afraid that they will not fit into their culture or, worst of all, that they will intimidate their employees. This is just a fake and sad impression that perpetuates. More experienced employees are more flexible, they have dealt with different situations and personalities in the course of their career, they do not act impulsively and have a good overview of the processes. I'm not saying that young people lack these qualities, but a younger mind has to be tamed first.
Potential employers sometimes lie about the real reason for rejection after an interview.
So many middle-aged people have the passion to work, they want to support others, coach and share their extensive experience. Unfortunately, some potential employers see an "overqualified" applicant as an expensive investment. The official reason given after a job interview will never be age-related, but instead, you will get a vague explanation of how "we hired another person who has a more suitable background". Truth is, they hired a rookie, who was afraid to negotiate properly his/her financial benefits and which they are hoping to teach your skills in a few months.
Experience is a valuable asset for any business and you can't just buy it or fake it.