Age Discrimination in the Workplace?
I never thought it would happen to me.
My unemployment is about to run out, and the only work I can find is substitute teaching for $85 a day. My district won't allow me to work more than 4 days per week because they are terrified they might have to offer me health care benefits. My paycheck is less than my unemployment benefit by $17. What the heck happened? How did I end up here?
Kids, career changes, layoffs.
I waitressed my way through high school and college, and graduated with a BA in English in 1979. (That's right, little hiring manager, I'm pushing 60.) My first job was in marketing. I moved into advertising and worked for two of the top agencies in the country. Four years later I landed my dream job as a writer for the team that brought you Care Bears, Ziggy, Strawberry Shortcake, and Madballs among others.
Then in1990, I gave birth to my first daughter. A year and a half later I had another. Talk about life changing!
I became a freelance writer, and it was lucrative until it wasn't, and I needed a more steady income. So I became a bookkeeper. Then a part-time editor. Then a teacher.
Then came the layoff that killed me. I was 51.
I'd been laid off before, and wasn't especially worried at the time. I made ends meet with subbing and the odd catering job, but I never dreamed it would take me another 5 years to land a full-time job. Three years later, and I'm laid off again.
I feel like I'm wasting my time to even try anymore.
In the last 6 months I've spent literally hundreds of hours applying for jobs, filling out page after page of online applications, writing unique cover letters, tweaking my resume, and all to no avail. I've seen jobs from which I've been politely rejected posted and re-posted by the same companies. And I get no response at all from organizations that shout about their fun work environment.
They don't want me.
I mourned. I dyed my hair a hopeful blonde. I wrote sarcastic thank you notes in response to their rejection letters (most of which I did not, repeat NOT, send). I went for days with the phrase “F#$% You” running on a continuous loop through my brain. I wept bitter, fearful tears. And finally, I decided I'd better get on with it and figure out what to do next.
I had to get creative.
The one constant I had going for me in my professional life was writing. Nobody cares how much gray hair you have, or that your hip hurts when it rains if you're feeding their eyes with good information and a well-turned phrase. I started searching for writing jobs, and that's how I found Wealthy Affiliate.
Of course, I was skeptical!
Google “writing jobs” and you'll see half of the returns are about writing scams! I was very lucky however, to stumble upon one particular site that laid it all out in a way that resonated with me. I left a comment, and lo and behold, I got a response! From that exchange, I felt reasonably sure that maybe, just maybe, I might actually be onto something worthwhile.
Was I ever wrong.
There's no maybe about it. Wealthy Affiliate is exactly what it claims to be: a training platform that teaches you how to build and monetize your very own website. I get to write about what I want, make some money, and let my hair go gray again. The community consists of the most helpful people I've ever met – they actually want everyone to succeed, no holding back, no competition. If my age has taught me anything, it's that that kind of giving is rare in the workplace.
Age discrimination is hard to prove, but I'm sure it exists, and I'm just as certain my age has been held against me by numerous employers. I just don't care anymore. I'm on page 1 of Google for three of my keywords, and I never could have done it without WA.
(Take THAT, little hiring manager – your “fun” workplace can't compete, and you can't afford me anymore anyway!)
Blessings to you all!