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Is it harder getting a job once you are 50+?

  1. Dec 23, 2014 #1
    Hey Everyone,
    I am asking this question with someone else in mind. I am still in my early twenties.

    There are many people with years of experience who for some reason might get laid off. Let's say that the company is relocating and dealing with money issues. Why is it that they would rather lay off the older people and hire young ones?

    Aren't the older people more loyal? They stuck out for that long...
    Is it because of cost? More experience = higher salary?

    I am applying for graduate school and if academia wasn't so hard to find a job in, I would say that it provides a lot more job security once you get tenure. A university cannot fire you ,unless if you did something illegal...

    This age requirement thing bugs me a lot. I understand that there needs to be some sort of diversity, but still. Also would you really expect young people to stay in one company for too long? If a company has money issues, wouldn't you rather keep your older loyal employees? Hiring costs a lot of money, I imagine.

    *Note, this is nothing against young job seekers. I am young and seeking a job too.* I just want to understand. Also, I know that in industry you sign a lot of paperwork. One of things that companies mention is that they can lay you off whenever, wherever, and for whatever reason.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2014 #2
    Yes, it's because of their cost.

    Yes, hiring new people is expensive. However, young people tend to have cheaper benefits as well, so they're saving more than just the salaray.

    No, this isn't always a good idea, and it can backfire as corporate knowledge walks out the door.
  4. Dec 23, 2014 #3
    thank's for the reply. I see what you mean, but these days how often do young people stick around for a company for 3+ years?
    Wouldn't companies constantly have to shell out money almost every 3-5 years to hire someone new? I feel like young people are more likely to bounce around until they settle down somewhere. The ones you have settled down are less likely to leave out of nowhere.

    Yeah, I agree.
  5. Dec 23, 2014 #4


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    Apples and oranges.

    Older people face different challenges in the job market and have different constraints to consider. I don't know that it's fair to say that it's "harder" or easier for them. Once you're in the 50+ bracket, you have a lot of experience under your belt. For some people that will mean that it's easier to market themselves. They'll have a broader network of contacts. They'll have more qualifications. They'll know about hiring cycles and which companies are growing and which are down sizing.

    Others could find themselves in a bad situation if they haven't updated their skills or planned on hunting for a new job. They can face ageism: are they looking for a soft job to sit in and wait out retirement? Will they fit in well with a crowd of mostly younger people in the entry-level positions? Some will struggle to learn new skills or adapt to modern ways of doing things.

    On top of this they will tend to have constraints of family, and financial commitments like mortgages and other debts. They have spouses who may not be mobile or who may have to give up a good job in order to be mobile.

    Young people face different challenges including: student debt, general naivitey about the corporate world, pressure from parents, and often being taken advantage of in a saturated marketplace.
  6. Dec 23, 2014 #5


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    One thing to learn from this is that it is important not to rest on your laurels: if you are 45 and complacently doing the same job you did at 25, you've priced yourself out of the job market and risk a cost-based layoff and a hard road to a new job at the same level. To combat that, you constantly must make sure you are worth what they are paying you.
  7. Dec 26, 2014 #6
    Thank you for all the replies and insight! I really appreciate it.

    I guess it's important to always know what the current trend of skills are for industry opportunities , whether one is employed or not.

    Same is sort of true in Academia, I guess. Except the trend is more about the field of physics.
  8. Dec 31, 2014 #7


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    Does academia pay well? Over the years I've occasionally looked at jobs in academia and been surprised at how badly the salary compared to what I was getting in the private sector (electronics engineering). I was never tempted.

    I'm now 55 and semi retired. The biggest decision I found was when to move from a technical position into managing technical people. I worked for several companies that had to lay off people and usually they kept the technical folk and laid off the middle managers.

    Advice to youngsters.. study hard, work hard, save hard, retire early!
  9. Dec 31, 2014 #8
    From what I hear, academia does not pay that well. I think it depends on location, university, and professor status ( tenured versus non tenured etc.) though for the amount of of work professors do, they are underpaid. That is true in some other professions too.

    Thanks for the advice! I'm at the working hard+saving hard stage and soon to add studying hard.
  10. Jan 9, 2015 #9

    Quantum Defect

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    The "stars" of the academic universe can get be paid quite well (lowish six figures). These are the full/associate professors at the elite universities. Most assistant professors do not make much. In the word of public universities, the pay can be quite low -- lower than that for a high school teacher in an affluent school district or at a selective private school.

    There are differences between fields, and competition in the private sector for the same talent drives up salaries in certain fields (law school faculty, computer science, business, etc.)
  11. Jan 16, 2015 #10
    I wouldn't say older people are more loyal at all. I'm in my 50's now, and when I look back, I see a long string of jobs lasting about 3-4 years each. :)

    There are two forms of job security:
    • Hold the same job for as long as you possibly can, and
    • Keep your skills current and be ready to find another job tomorrow if you need to.
    Lifetime employment is largely a thing of the past, so I'd suggest you put your effort on the second of these.
  12. Jan 16, 2015 #11
    You can always lie about your age. Employers technically don't have the right to know that info. But yes, my friends dad won a lawsuit because he was fired for age discrimination. It is real sadly.
  13. Jan 16, 2015 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    In what country? They certainly do in the US.
  14. Jan 16, 2015 #13


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    Lying during the interview is grounds for rescission of an employment offer or termination after hiring. There are legal protections against age discrimination in the USA, but not for lying.

    Furthermore, under US law,employers do know the age of their employees once hired because it factors into many aspects of payroll and benefits administration. They are not allowed to ask about your age during the hiring and interviewing process, but if they do and you don't answer honestly you will be far worse off.

    Of course not many people can handle this question as adroitly as Ronald Reagan ("I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience"), but google will find you some competent professional and legal advice.
  15. Jan 16, 2015 #14


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    Higher age has advantages and disadvantages. Interviewers know very well that asking the candidate's age is not allowed. They can still find ones age or make a logical assessment for a good estimate.
  16. Jan 21, 2015 #15
    Thanks for the advice! I am beginning to realize that the lifetime employment is a thing of the past.

    About the age thing:
    *Most US employers ask for date of birth in the application and it is usually required, so they would know your age. Lying would be very bad. Especially if they asked for verification of your status to work in US, you would be caught.

    *all the jobs I have applied to require DOB. I guess the verification thing happens if you have an offer? I have a part time job and they didn't ask beyond "can you legally work in the US without something or the other"..
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
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