Help a job seeker: What should you do when age is an obstacle to finding a job?


Every other Wednesday we usually feature an open thread where we ask you to share your advice on a particular topic. Today, we’re shifting gears and featuring a question we recently received from a job seeker. Can you help her out?

“I have found that my age is one of the biggest obstacles in reaching employers/gaining employment.

I started by leaving off my undergraduate degree, now I am struggling with leaving off one of my masters degrees. I worked hard for both degrees, I was able to pay off all my loans to NYU for the first masters degree, and now I worry that not only will I struggle with paying back my loans, but that all my hard work in sustainable economic development, advocacy and leadership with carefully chosen and reputable NGO’s will make no difference whatsoever.

I am thinking perhaps I should do something for women around this issue but have no idea where to start, part of this problem is I have most of my experience in India where cultural norms and practice are very different.

I would love to get some insight into this issue as I imagine I am not the only woman struggling with this.”

Do you have any advice for this job seeker? Share it in the comments.

And if you’re job seeker looking for advice, send me your question at

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Editor at Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya and @idealistcareers


  1. I agree with Shari. This thread is very motivating and encouraging. I also like Ivette’s comments and proposals. This April I’ll be 58 years old. I lost my job in Mexico, couldn’t find a job because of the age issue. Moved to Chicago 3 years ago looking for a better life. Have worked in “survival jobs”. I’ve been enrolled in an Upwardly Global (non-profit organization) program for “foreign educated legal immigrants”. They help you with your resume, mock interviews and networking. So far, I’ve been interviewed by 3 companies, as a finalist in two of them lately. Unfortunately, from one of the companies I received the same feedback as T, namely, “although it is clear that someone with your qualifications has much to offer, we have narrowed the search and filled the position with another candidate that we think best meets the skills and experience for the role.”
    The HR Manager from the other company informed me that though I am “very professional” and “experienced” the other candidate seems to support pressure better tan I do !!!!!!!?????
    I have a BS in International Trade from a reputable university in Mexico City and a MBA in International Trade from Laredo State University (Texas A&M). My background is in Purchasing/Procurement/Supply Chain.
    I thought that age discrimination in the USA was illegal but I am starting to realize that it is a fact. Thank you all.

  2. Really, I’ve found that the biggest problem is even with organization/companies that will interview “experienced” workers, if the hiring manager is significantly younger or less experienced, the odds for getting hired is practically impossible.

  3. I, too, face the two-headed resistance of gender and age when applying for a job. I talked to one of my mentors about the problem and she, still going strong full time at 76 as a university professor, advised me to turn it on its head. So, she argued, argue that your age is an important benefit to any employer. Women over 45 are unlikely to bear children and many of them do not have children living at home so time is less likely to be divided. Women over 45 also are more likely to have their marriages “under control” in that husbands have either accustomed themselves to marriage to a professional woman or weak marriages have ended already. Also, the wealth of experience, ability to communicate, focus, and stamina that older workers bring to their jobs often impressively beats out younger workers. I’m sure you can think of qualities you bring to your work that you have strengthened simply by having been in your field for a long time!

  4. I’m encountering age discrimination as a church pastor. As our mainline congregations get older and shrink, they are less able to pay a just wage based on experience and more eager to hire part-time and/or young inexperienced pastors in the hopes they will magically “bring the children back.” (A nice but unlikely dream.) Our situation is exacerbated by the fact that we are not eligible for unemployment compensation as we are considered by the IRS to be “self-employed”.

    Age discrimination is easily disguised by the fact that a “search committee” (group of lay folk charged with finding a new pastor) can simply say “We have another candidate who more closely matches what we are looking for. Best wishes for your future.”

    Retooling to seek a non-profit job is not easy without specific talents not directly developed as a pastor, like fund-raising and grant-writing, marketing and advertising. Writing an effective free market resume is also a challenge after thirty years of not doing so.

    I am not giving up, but I am also aware of the economic feudalism that is contributing to our dilemma and wish that it would be written about/exposed more often. Guess I’d better write the article!

  5. Casaundra May on

    I think now days it is better to make your own job/profession/career.
    It seems to be the trend, as many people are unable to employ people at this time, and this seems to be a growing problem.
    If I could make a suggestion…combine what it is you are wanting to do, along with the skills you have and find out what the missing service is in your community.
    If there isn’t anything, then move.
    This is what I am doing. After several attempts to combine my skills and passions to do some kind of work to support my family, I have discovered after 8 years in this community I am in that it is not a good match.
    The work I do now supports my family, but not my passions and now that I am in my early 40’s, the clock is ticking away and it is time to do what I want and what I am good at.
    There are obvious pros and cons to working for yourself, but at least you are employed and not waiting around for someone to give you a shot.
    Best of luck to you and I sincerely hope you can use your skills and passions to help women.
    We desperately need to support one another.
    Take care

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