Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Beating age discrimination

Interesting article in The Oregonian about age discrimination -- when it comes to getting hired, it turns out that 50-somethings have a real disadvantage, i.e. we're seen as too old, too fat, too set in our ways, and utterly lacking in tech-savvy.

Ouch.

And no, this shouldn't be a problem in the ministry -- two-thirds of the pastors in my conference are over the age of 50, after all. Then too, the laws banning age discrimination do apply to pastors; this is one of the few areas where we are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Still, not everybody knows this. (I can think of two churches, for instance, that openly advertised they were "looking for a pastor in his mid-30s.") And age discrimination is both extremely common and incredibly difficult to prove.

So here are a few suggestions for "pastors of a certain age":
  • Scrub your resume. The Oregonian recommends you remove both graduation dates and time-in-service at any jobs you've had -- in short, get rid of anything that will let them guess your age.
  • Update your look. If you're like me, you're still have the same haircut you did in 1986. (That's also when I decided Dockers would be the only kind of slacks I ever buy.) Guess what? As The Oregonian points out, your "look" is now older than some of the people who will be hiring you.
  • Lose weight. It's wrong. It's illegal, But as one employer admitted to The Oregonian, nothing says "medical bills" like a few extra pounds.
  • Keep up on technology. Even a few nods in this direction can make a difference -- one of my students, for instance, was absolutely amazed I had an iPod! So learn how to text. Learn how to Twitter. And yes, it may have jumped the shark, but you still need to learn how to do whatever it is they do on Facebook.

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