Entrepreneurs

New Study: Gen X Is the New Baby Boomer When It Comes to Ageism at Work

Can’t find workers fast enough? Put Gen Xers at the top of your hiring list.

Just under two thirds of Gen Xers–those aged 45 to 60–had been unemployed for longer than a year, according to a new global survey of employees, employers, and hiring managers conducted by Generation, a non-profit employment organization. That compares to 52 percent of job seekers aged 35 to 44, who remained unemployed for longer than a year, and 36 percent for those aged 18 to 34.

Meanwhile, the survey, which was conducted between March 2021 and May of the same year, also notes that according to employers, 90 percent of workers age 45 or older have the same long-term potential as their younger cohort.

In other words, those with more tenure are just as good at their jobs as those with less, but they have a harder time finding work than their less-experienced counterparts. The study concludes that the fault for this imbalance may reside with hiring managers.

Generation reported hiring managers say  candidates age 35 to 44 have greater “relevant education, salient prior work, and the right technical skills for the job” than those in the older cohort. “Deep-seated societal issues and attitudes lie at the heart of age-based biases, and they will take time to address,” say the report’s authors. 

This thinking may be the result of the age group of the hiring managers surveyed; 72 percent count themselves among the younger cohorts. As such, they may be more likely to regard peers as more competent colleagues, the report suggests. 

Despite growing calls to tackle inequality in the workplace, overlooking this qualified group of workers when filling open positions, may be signaling that Gen X is the new Baby Boomer in terms of falling victim to ageism. “Whatever the reason, the fact remains: ageism is real and global–and addressing it calls for further attention and reflection,” Generation’s authors report.

To overcome any potential age bias, consider shifting from a traditional resume-centered interview to a process that allows individuals age 45 and up to show off their skills, suggests Generation. For instance, you might try a demonstration-based exercise. That’s also something to deploy within your existing employee-training regimen. As new roles come available within the organization, older workers that prove their mettle can move up, rather than solely seeking new hires.   

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