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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Is It Age Discrimination?

Dear Sue: I am a 52-year-old marketing executive with a lot of solid experience. My resume is doing what it is supposed to do because I am getting interviews, but no job offers. I am being interviewed by managers much younger than I am for jobs that I feel I can do with my eyes closed. I am wondering if I am being discriminated against because of my age and am not sure how to overcome this obstacle. Should I dye my hair? I am looking for any suggestions you can offer.

– Marketing Executive

Sue Says: It is possible that your age is a factor, but it may not be the only reason you are not receiving offers. It is important to look at any and all other possible explanations. If you feel that your gray hair is a problem and you would feel more comfortable dying your hair, dye it. Do whatever you need to do so you can project yourself in the best manner, but your looks may not be a deterrent at all.

With age people gain confidence, experience and knowledge. Obviously you have much to offer a company. While you needn’t play down your accomplishments, be careful not to appear overly confident or condescending when you are talking with the young managers who are interviewing you. It is important that you do not appear too set in your ways or come off as though you feel superior to others.

If you are willing to take a position that falls beneath your skill level, you need to be sure that you do not let on that you feel you could do the job with your eyes closed or that you feel somehow you are better than the position you are accepting.

Your resume is getting you interviews so you do have something that is connecting with these young managers, but experience alone will not get you a job. Age discrimination does exist, but is not always a problem or the reason a person is not hired. Don’t let your age be a huge issue -- work at selling yourself and projecting a “can-do” attitude, just as you would have years ago. If you want to compete and have a chance at an offer you need to do what others are doing for the same opportunities. Research a company, prepare for an interview, make the best possible impression you can and do your best to find some common ground with the young managers you meet with. It may take some time, but there is something out there for you, you just have to find it. Good luck.

Dear Sue: I worked for a company for 20 years and got laid off. Since my termination I have worked with temporary agencies, but I recently found a permanent job. My problem is that I hate the job and I've only been here two months. It is a small company and the owner is horrible. More people need to be hired to get all the work done, but it doesn’t seem like any new people are being interviewed. Employees are asked to wear 2 or more hats, and the job is taking a toll on me to the point that I can't even sleep at night. My family tells me to hang in there because I've been out of permanent job for over a year. Please help!

– Losing sleep.

Sue Says: If things are so bad that you are not sleeping at night, I cannot think of a good reason for you to stay. I understand that it is not easy to go back to being unemployed, but you need to decide what your priorities are. Chances are that this job isn’t the only way for you to earn money. Is any paycheck worth working at a place you despise? Is it worth losing sleep at night? I realize it is not easy being unemployed or looking for work, but if things are as bad as you say, what price are you paying for staying? You need to listen to and trust your own opinion along with that of your family. They may think they know what is best for you, but you are the only one who really knows your limits and how much you can tolerate.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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