As the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt by Americans, the process that members of the baby boomer generation go through to try and find work has been complicated by the ongoing effects of the virus.
To that end, there are some tips that older workers can try to potentially make a difference in their current job searches, including communicating an eagerness to learn; providing specific details about any technical skills; and remembering that the nature of the employer matters very much in a job search.
This is according to research data analyzed by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.
According to a study conducted by Belgian researchers published in December 2019, company hiring managers from 30 different developed countries including the United States were much less likely to be asked to come in for an interview when compared with younger counterparts. One reason for this was that older workers were perceived to have “lower [levels of] technological skill, flexibility, and trainability levels,” the study reads.
However, this presents a disconnect when compared with data gleaned from a different report from May 2020 at Boston College, which indicates that employers often perceive older workers as being at least as productive as younger workers, if not potentially more productive. Older workers are also received more warmly if the hiring manager processing their application is also older, the recent study found.
Still, the authors of the later study are quick to point out that there remain two predominant issues affecting older workers, particularly in the current job climate.
“First, even when employers say they have positive perceptions of older workers, this posture ‘does not necessarily correspond with employer behavior,’” the brief reads. “Second, given older workers’ underlying health conditions, COVID-19 is a wild card that could ‘adversely affect’ their job prospects.”
In the end, some older job hunters will invariably encounter a segment of recruiters who will not look kindly on their age, but the study of older workers did identify some tips for older job applicants that may be beneficial in securing employment particularly in the midst of the pandemic, and to counter stereotypes that may exist surrounding older workers.
“Make clear in an application that you are flexible and eager to learn new things, mitigating the impact of two of the strongest negative stereotypes,” the first tip says. “[Second,] provide ample detail about your technical skills to counter perceptions of being behind the times.”
Finally, having a focused approach on where an older applicant chooses to submit an application can make a big difference, the brief says.
“Job recruiters at firms with a larger percentage of older workers were more likely to be interested in older applicants,” the research indicates. “This finding – backed up by both of the employer surveys discussed above – was particularly true for professionals or positions requiring more skill.”
Read the brief at the Center for Retirement Research.