Double Whammy for IT Job Seekers: Being Unemployed and Over 50

Don Tennant

In my recent post, "Job Candidates Disqualified Because They're Unemployed?," I asked readers to chime in with any experiences they'd had with the practice by some employers of limiting the field of candidates for job openings to only those who are currently employed. The response suggests that employers who engage in the practice may be using it to help weed out older candidates.


Here's an excerpt from an e-mail written by a reader who identified himself as being over 50 (edited for clarity):

I firmly believe that there has been big-time age and unemployed discrimination happening over the past several years.


I am an IT professional with 10 progressive years of experience and promotions under my belt. Then I was laid off in early 2009. The funny thing now that I think about it was about four months before the layoff, an experience and education survey was sent out to all employees. I was lacking current IT certs at that time. I am in the 50+ group as far as age is concerned. When I attended unemployment sessions, I did not see anyone there who was in their 20s or 30s.


While at a local professional networking group late last fall, a career coach gave a presentation to the group. It was suggested that the unemployed change their resume from "unemployed" to "company confidential" and list a title and job duties as if we were still employed. I thought it was wrong and I felt like I was lying. Before the end of the year several other group members announced that they landed jobs. Each indicated that they used this method. One member said that she was asked about this last job and she honestly told them why she listed a bogus job. She got the job anyway. The other two members said that they were never asked about this last "bogus" job and landed jobs. They all were unemployed for around two years when they used this method to land jobs. I finally gave in this year and listed a bogus position. I had pushed this updated resume out to several IT job boards and within a week or so started receiving e-mails from different recruiters. So, over the past two months, I received 15 recruiter e-mails [resulting in only one face-to-face interview, which didn't pan out].

This reader said he's convinced his age is a factor in his unemployment (edited for clarity):

Just wanted to let you know that a couple of months ago a recruiter in Greenville, S.C., told me, "No one will consider you because you have been out of work for over a year." I have 35 years experience in application development on IBM mainframe and midrange (iSeries) platforms using several languages, and have also done IMS/DB2 systems software support. I have worked for some of the largest corporations -- Rockwell International, Chrysler, General Motors/Electronic Data Systems, and Computer Sciences Corp. So I was shocked to think they would just dismiss all my experience.


I also have strong feelings (but could not prove) that my age is also a factor in getting immediately dropped from consideration for jobs for which I feel I am otherwise qualified.

I was unable to confirm the next reader's story, but if there's any truth to it at all, it's pretty stunning. So I'm including it here for you to make of it what you will (edited for clarity):

No matter what your education level or experience, it is standard practice to not hire anyone who has been out of work for over a year. In addition, because legal action is currently so high for older executives being let go recently, companies now say, "We are making significant changes. You need to now re-interview for your job. You will be replaced by a worker with 5 to 8 years of experience, and who is younger. You will be told that we need different skill sets now because we are headed in a new direction."


Another trend is to lay U.S. people off so a company can hire employees from India. These workers are after the Green Card, not salary. They will work for much less than an American citizen. So get used to food stamps and the street. If you want to see how many highly qualified people are homeless right now for lack of work, check out the parking lots at your local health clubs. People sleep in their cars (they get a Sears portable battery and electric space heater for winter). They keep their health club membership because they can go in anytime and sleep on a couch or take a shower. In the Chicago suburbs, these are the new refugee camps. I'm sorry if I seem negative. I am not. I am just truthful. Remember the health club tip. It is a place where you can shower and you can sleep in your car in the club parking lot without the police arresting you for vagrancy (which is a new version of debtors prison). [From] Allen, contacting you from my health club. Unemployed executive and MBA who has brought 48 new products to market. See you in the parking lot.

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