Dan Quirk presented a sneak peek of the QReport at a recent Insight Community Network meeting. While unemployment is at historically low levels, a substantial percentage of those unemployed within the Insights Industry are over the age of 56. In 2022 66.9% to be exact according to his survey. If you find yourself in that category, approaching that category or managing staff over 55 here are some helpful hints from Executive Recruiters’ Smith Hanley Associates to weather the ageism in consumer insights.
Signs of Ageism in Consumer Insights
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed in 1967 and made age a “protected characteristic” in the workplace. Discrimination can occur in hiring, firing, work assignments and promotions. Here are some ways your firm might be, even unintentionally, discriminating against your older employees.
- Learning opportunities only offered to younger employees
- Overlooking or passing over older employees for challenging assignments.
- Older employees being left out of client meetings or company activities.
- An unspoken assumption that older employees are not eligible for time off for family commitments because they don’t have young kids at home.
- Disparaging comments, remarks or even well-intended jokes about age or aging.
- Being passed over for raises and promotions.
Dealing with Ageism in Your Workplace
- Invest in your own growth and development. Stay up-to-date on new industry trends and take courses in innovative technologies and new research methods. Demonstrate you are a good investment for your company.
- Get a mentor. While you feel you are positive, collaborative and motivated, ask your mentor if you are coming across that way. Seek their feedback and their support.
- You have the experience. Your level of polish and professionalism should exceed that of your younger colleagues. Be a mentor and a resource to them, showing your value as an experienced employee.
- You probably have lived through mergers, restructurings and turnover that has become more commonplace in the market research industry. Use that experience to help other staff and your organization in a similar transition. Stay positive and specific about what to do. Negative stories and talking about bad experiences don’t reflect positively on you.
Polish and update your resume. The first line of your resume should not say your number of years of experience if it is over ten. Use bullets and short sentences and focus on relevant keywords to get the best response from screening software. Pull out the highlights that are relevant to the job you are applying to. A particular skill set that is sought will be more important than an emphasis on broad, less in-depth experience.
Use social media. Is your LinkedIn up-to-date? Connect with the Insight Community Network, Quirks and other groups. Connections will pay off over the long-term as you will be able to go directly to hiring managers versus going through screening software or internal recruiting staff whose job is to weed people out!
Hiring Firm Concerns
Ageism in Consumer Insights exists against 56+ candidates. Be ready to address it.
“Won’t you be bored by our opening?” Have a clear reason why you are interviewing for a position you are overqualified for. Perhaps you have a particular knowledge in the industry or client group they support. Perhaps you want to apply and build your expertise in a technology skill you just learned.
“You don’t have the technology skill we are looking for.” Make it clear you are eager and have learned new things late in your career. Be specific and show how you have absorbed and applied new processes and software.
While they can’t directly address your age you may get the feeling they want someone younger they can develop and mold into their way of thinking. This is a tough one to battle, but make it clear you are enthused about working and feel you have a lot to offer to the company, your co-workers and their clients.
With the tight labor market and the aging of the population in general, company’s should start to show more flexibility on who they hire.