Cleared Job Seekers and Age Discrimination

Posted by Rob Riggins

“I’m not talking about botox and hair dye.” Patra Frame

For years security cleared job seekers had few worries about finding employment. For many that has now changed, and just holding a security clearance no longer ensures you’re going to find a job easily. Even at the higher clearance levels.

Older workers – a relative term for sure, but in general anyone over 40 – need to stay current on technology critical to their field. And they need to demonstrate they’re up-to-date on new developments in their profession.

The good news is many security-cleared employers value experience and expertise. Seek out those companies. Stay current. Sell your accomplishments and achievements. And network!

Rob on Google+


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 6:09 am

12 thoughts on “Cleared Job Seekers and Age Discrimination”

  1. Though, what about those who are 40+ who graduated in the last 5 years from University, are up to date, and still can’t get a job. What if they were stay at home moms, or dads, but still have a wide range of knowledge and experiences. Little seems to be given in credit to these people. Its a conundrum.

    If you put your graduation year on a resume, people assume you are 20 something, and are fabricating your experience. If you don’t put it on people look at your job history, most of which is here and there (because they are still trying to get into their field and/or trying to get a half decent job that will pay off their student loans). Its hard either way.

    I’ve found that employers look at this, regardless of if you have clearance or not, and are unable to see that someone has potential. If the prospective employee graduated with a perfect score, has had experience in many areas and is intelligent enough, why aren’t employers seeing this? They forget that some people can do more than the average person. There are many good people out there, who could easily do the job they apply for, they hit the ground running in any job, and don’t even score an interview. Instead employers put everyone in a box and assume that if someone hasn’t worked in an area, they can’t. Even employers who offer training, still don’t take on someone who is obviously intelligent enough to take on anything. Employers are missing out because they simply can’t see outside that box, and candidates are becoming more and more frustrated.

    1. I am 59, I retired from the US Army and I have submitted over 112 job applications duing the past 7 months. I have a college degree and a top secret security clearance and cannot find even an interview sometimes.

      1. Curtis, Many of the retired military people whose resumes I see are not written for the civilian jobs they are most interested in. I have no idea what yours looks like but would suggest:
        – look at our blog posts and videos for more info on translating your military experience into civilian.
        – once you have re-checked your resume, ask some of your civilian contacts in your field for feedback on it. Take their best suggestions and use them to refine your resume further
        – post your resume on CJN
        – build your network to find the right opportunities for you and to connect with employers you are targeting directly.
        Come to the next CJN job fair, if you can, and learn more directly from employers as well as from our seminars and from people you meet there.

    2. HM, although this was specific to those who already hold security clearances, your situation is unfortunately not unusual. Employers are inundated with candidates and often use software which will screen out anyone who does not exactly meet their search terms. Your best bet is to:
      – develop a very focused resume which highlights the achievements you have that are relevant to the job you want in your targeted employers, AND
      – work your network to help you assess and find the right opportunities. Doing that well will lead you to contacts at the companies you are most interested in. Working with them can lead to an employee referral which generally gets far more attention than a resume submittal.
      Take a look at some of our other job search videos for more help.

  2. Being over 40 is not much of a problem. Wait until you are like me, over 62, active TS Clearance since 1969, College Educated, exemplary work history, worked for SAIC for 11 years until they tossed me to the street because of my managers personal opinion. Regardless of skill no company will hire you at this point because they figure if last company did not find a spot for you (SAIC was big enough) there is something wrong or they figure you are just biding time for Social Security.

  3. Boorawd, There are companies out there who will hire you if you have the right skills. But you will need to get past your anger – recruiters see that quite fast and then they think you might be a problem. Work it out with family or friends or whatever works for you. And don’t post it any more. Not easy but critical to your next success.

  4. I agree with all of the comments concerning age discrimination. I have an outstanding resume and lots of expereience plus a college degree with master’s credits. Companies contact me and, at first, everything is great, then after they discover my age, they drop me like a hot potato. I have been through this numerous times. They always make an excuse about “slot being deleted,” “job no longer available,” ete., etc. etc. Companies do practice age discrimination on a daily basis and it is a problem but no one does anything about it. I put in a complaint once with EEOC and the company eventually hired me but it was sheer hell on the job so I had to quit. I have had other companies just leave me doing nothing so that I would get disgusted and resign. Companies operate in different ways to screen their candidates by age in addition to experience and all the rest. Right now, against my intentions, I will have to retire. In confidence, HR people will admit to age discrimination. They want younger workers and management requires it.

  5. I’m in my early 40’s and even though I have a degree, 20+ years experience, the latest certifications, a lifestyle polygraph, etc., they almost all tell me that I’m “overqualified” (that is if I can even talk to someone.)

    I did have one manager tell me that I not only could do his job better than he could, but also his boss’s job too. Most managers aren’t looking for great or experienced employees because it might jeopardize their jobs.

  6. Certainly there is age discrimination – that is why we have done several columns and videos on the topic. But not all organizations discriminate against those over 40. And you do not find a job by complaining about the companies which discriminate. And you do not find a job by old school ‘toss a ton of applications out’ there tactics. And while a lot of us vent online,
    the real tips are:
    – do your research and find companies where your skills and knowledge contribute to their success and are valued.
    – learn how to demonstrate your value in terms which are relevant to the work and the employer you are targeting.
    – find connections in these targets and learn more about the organization. If it looks good, and you have built a real connection, ask the person to help you get a job there.
    – do your complaining off-line and get help to deal with any anger you have so it does not peek out in your job search.

    I am not a Pollyanna. I have faced age discrimination myself and I have worked with companies that were, generally unconsciously, practicing it to get them to stop.

    But why would you want to work for a company which dscriminates based on your age? Make the effort to find a place where you can succeed instead.

  7. What about the older vet who not only kept up with current tech stuff, but also knows the old ways – for like with the power goes out. And knows how to talk to people in person and read body lingo— unlike some who’s primary commo plan is text msg. LOL.

  8. I have found that some gov’t agencies have hired and put in charge much younger people, not all of whom are professional and mature, and they are threatened and/or uncomfortable with an older senior contractor who has more experience and probably makes more money. Instead of utilizing that persons experience they tend to single them out and make the work environment difficult, especially if the rest of the group is in the same age group. I have seen where it becomes a click and the experienced person gets shoved out. In regards to the companies not hiring people – many contracts have ended and new contracts are coming out but salaries are being reduced. Companies are downsizing because contractor support is being downsized. I too have been unemployed for close to 5 months now and have gotten a lot of interest but not a job yet. By the way I am 50 and have been retired from military since 2000. Good luck everyone!

  9. Instead of telling us we are too old, we should be given some positive advice. Here is a much better article on getting certifications to get re-hired.

    I’m finding that the employers #1 question to me is: WHEN I will be getting the certification I am currently studying for.

    But the most important thing we need to be doing is to write our Congressional members (House & Senate) and tell them to eliminate the H1B subsidies. Since the IT market has been flooded with these H1Bs for the past 20 years, there is no incentive for companies to hire seasoned workers when they can get cheap, newly trained IT help from overseas.

    I do feel sorry for the 20’somethings who will suffer even more and sooner (in their thirties) as globalization continues to move US jobs to foreign workers.

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