I’m retired and 65, and usually take on seasonal retail work. The extra cash gives me a nice boost for the holidays. I’m worried employers won’t consider me due to my age, given the COVID situation. I know they can’t normally discriminate, but can they use that as an excuse not to hire me?
My mother-in-law is 88 and works for the same reason. She was furloughed due to COVID and recently offered her job back — remarkable on many levels. You are wondering if, since the scientists say older people are more at risk, employers can use that as an excuse to discriminate on the basis of age. It would be a novel rationale — that they are declining to hire you for your own safety. No matter how you slice it, that is an adverse employment decision based on age, and the law doesn’t allow it. Don’t let your age be a psychological obstacle for you. Just apply to every job that interests you with confidence and enthusiasm. Many employers actually prefer older seasonal workers, finding them more mature and responsible, so stay positive.
I’m good at what I do, but my job is focused on one thing, and I’m afraid I won’t have enough diversity in my attributes when looking for another job. How can I round out my skills?
Well, I bet that you are already good at more than one thing, but your employer hasn’t yet tapped into that. You might want to ask to take on more responsibility, even if they can’t offer you more money (although more moolah is always good). Or, volunteer for special projects where you can stretch a little and learn new skills or demonstrate what else you have to offer. Think of it as an investment in yourself. You might also consider going back to school part time to get an advanced degree, or take continuing education classes. Check with your employer about what training and development programs they offer. Lastly, if your employer can’t give you growth opportunities, look for a new job that will. That might not seem appealing in these uncertain times, but there’s no harm and risk in looking for a new job while you have one. That’s the best place to be.
Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.