When you embark on a career path, you’ll probably foresee certain challenges. Maybe you know that you’ll need a certain degree or that competition will be stiff for a certain role.
Other challenges are more subtle. They creep up on you when you think you’ve finally hit your stride and are on your way to job security.
Like what challenges? you ask. Like ageism—the sometimes overt but more often tacit sidelining of experienced workers that, despite legal protections, plagues the American workplace.
Alice Rush, a career advisor with University of Phoenix and a certified career counselor with 30 years of experience in private practice, has seen ageism more than once during her career.
She explains: “In the ’90s, there was a switch from going for the gold watch like my dad did in corporate America … [to] outsourcing, downsizing, right-sizing and moving jobs overseas. … Unfortunately, what we saw in corporate America was the most expensive people, the older people, were the ones who were laid off. That’s who I was left with coaching and [who asked], ‘How do we navigate our careers when we’re 40-, 50-plus?’”
Age, as it turns out, actually is more than just a number.
But while Rush acknowledges there are some “ugly truths” about age discrimination, she says there are also ways to circumvent them.
“We don’t have to lie down and say, ‘OK, well, I guess I should just give up,’” Rush contends. “It’s really important to take the blinders off and see, yes, there is age discrimination. But where is there not? Where can I use my age to my advantage?’”