were there Over 800,000 open jobs in Canada in July, but Toronto-based Jane Di Biese says she can’t move past the interview stage – if that.
“It’s been really tough,” says Di Biese, whose last job was as a senior manager for client services.
“When[employers]see your picture or your age or your tenure or your education deadline, I feel like, you immediately get an email saying, ‘You have great experience and we’re going with another candidate. Huh.’”
Di Biasse is 60 years old and believes she is busy looking for her job.
Canada is facing a historic labor shortage. In mid-summer, employers in housing and food services alone were trying to fill 132,800 jobs, accounting for the highest job vacancy rate ever seen in the industry (11.6 percent).
According to Statistics Canada, the retail business had the second largest number of job vacancies in July (101,300), and the health care and social support sector was staring at 97,800 positions.
But as labor market shortages spread across the economy, companies scramble with perks and steep wage barriers to attract or retain employees, according to job recruiters.
And yet, some older employees, like Di Bias, say they can’t get a callback.
Di Biasse, who found himself out of a job in the spring of 2019, says he has been looking for a job ever since. They estimate that they have applied for 20 to 30 jobs.
About her job search, she says, “I took a break, saying she struggled to keep working with employers despite her experience and credentials.
“You get disappointed.”
Age-based discrimination in the workplace was widespread in Canada even before the COVID-19 pandemic, says Eli Berger, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Nipissing and author Ageism at work: Reconstructing age and gender in a discriminatory labor market.
Companies often single out employees age 55 and older for promotion and training opportunities, says Berger, who has researched the issue for more than 25 years. But it’s really when older workers lose their jobs and try to find a new one that workplace ageism takes the heaviest toll, she says.
In a longitudinal study spanning several years, Berger found older workers who experienced prolonged unemployment often experienced depression and other mental health problems, a phenomenon he calls “identity decline.”
“They feel a sense of being humiliated, being considered old and worthless,” she says. And that state of mind, in turn, impairs workers’ ability to find new employment, she says.
According to Berger, layoffs related to the pandemic have left more Canadians grappling with age bias as they struggle to rejoin the workforce, which they say has forced older and higher-paid workers into the workforce. Have heard of companies as a cost-cutting measure. Stages of a health emergency. But now that employers are hiring again, many are willing to replace senior workers with lower-paid, younger workers, she says.
Berger says he has served as an expert witness in some recent ageism cases with the Ontario Human Rights Commission And expects the volume of lawsuits focused on age discrimination to increase.
But older workers battling ageism include some who decided to leave early or retire from the pandemic, says Katherine Meisner, a Toronto-based career and salary negotiation coach.
For example, job turmoil related to the pandemic has prompted some baby boomers in sectors such as health care and the airline industry to pull the trigger on early retirement.
Meisner says he’s seen some clients who quickly reconsidered that decision because they realized they weren’t ready to stop working or because they found out they couldn’t afford it. However, often, re-entering the labor force is an uphill struggle for people age 55 and older, she says.
It doesn’t help that, in Canada and other countries, the pandemic has also triggered a surge of resignations, with record numbers of workers pursuing new careers and opportunities.
“(Older workers) are competing against a new crop of people, usually young people,” Meisner says.
If you’re concerned about ageism, keep in mind that common strategies to avoid disclosing your age — such as omitting school graduation dates on your resume — can backfire, Berger says.
“When I talked to employers … they really talked about how being an older person is a red flag if there’s no resume date,” she says.
Applying for jobs for which you’re unqualified doesn’t work, because employers will often feel like you’re not a good fit, Meisner says. Instead, whether you’re trying to make a lateral move or change careers, you should focus on working on your professional network.
“Those are the people who know you,” she says. “Sometimes they are ready to help you.”
It is also important to refresh and prepare your resume. With algorithms often taking the first crack through job applications, a resume that doesn’t include the right keywords may never be noticed by a flesh-and-bone hiring manager, warns Meisner. has given.
And if you’re already out of a job before the pandemic work-from-home boom, make sure you’re comfortable using technology that supports remote work, such as video calls and workplace chat applications.
For her part, Di Biase says she was using Zoom before the pandemic and has always been tech-savvy.
His long period of unemployment is causing a rift in his family’s financial plans. She says that with two children, who are soon to be married, she and her husband, who is retired, will have to tighten the purse strings. For example, helping children buy a house no longer seems possible.
Still, he’s not ready to take the picture down…