Warning Signs Your Potential Employer May Not Understand Your Needs As An Older Jobseeker

According to a report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the number of people changing career paths in their 50s has increased by around 33 percent. So, if you are 50 or older, and you are re-learning the interview process, you are not alone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your potential employer will understand your unique needs.  

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Applicants over 50 are apt to experience age discrimination, and often require advocacy to ensure their rights are being respected. It is paramount that your potential employer understands the distinct needs of the older applicant. Pay attention to these 5 warning signs which may indicate they do not.

1. They do not understand your motivations

People at various stages of life are motivated by different incentives. Studies have shown that employees 50 and older are more likely than younger workers to be inspired by company missions and visions rather than personal benefits. Your potential employer should be willing and able to discuss things that are important to you, like how the company helps the community. If all they can seem to talk about is bonuses and waffle parties, this could be a red flag.

2. They offer you an entry-level salary

When you are in your 50s, you have distinct financial needs as you grow closer to retirement. According to Forbes “Over 40 percent of people at retirement age are not financially prepared. Over 50 percent of people over 50 have less than $50,000 in retirement savings.” So, if the hiring manager is talking entry level salary, and how you can build it up over time, which is probably not going to work for you. Do your research ahead of time and walk into that interview with a clear understanding of what you are worth.

3. Their questions are sketchy

If the person you are interviewing with asks questions like “where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years,” they may be trying to sidestep the rule of not being able to directly ask you how old you are. The same goes for questions like “when did you graduate college?” and “do you have any grandchildren?”

These questions may be based on a legitimate desire to get to know you. But they may also be an indication that the interviewer is trying to figure out when you will retire, or whether you will be sharp enough or strong enough for the job, based on their stereotypes of age.

If you notice these potential warning signs of ageism, answer the question generically and hope that the interviewer does not persist. If they will not let the matter go, you are probably looking at a red flag the size of Montana.

4. The interviewer is condescending

We have all seen comedy sketches in which a young person is speaking really loudly to an older person who can hear perfectly fine. There is a tendency in our society to talk to people 50+ in a condescending tone. If the interviewer is doing that, they probably aren’t aware that 50 is the new 30. Be sure to set them straight, in a firm but respectful manner.

5. The company is not transparent about employee demographics

According to Fortune, only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies are fully transparent with their diversity data. When you’re researching the company, you should be able to get an idea of just how forthcoming they are about the people who work for them. If they are overly secretive, or if the demographic data shows the vast majority of employees are under 40, this could be a sign that they don’t understand what an age-diverse workforce is really about. 

If your potential employer is really looking for younger employees, they will not be able to hide it for long. If you notice any of these red flags during the interview process, there is a good chance your needs are not being understood, which means they are probably not going to be met if you are hired. It is up to you whether you want to try to change the system from within, or simply look elsewhere. Whatever you decide, never settle for less than you deserve.

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