The Gray Ceiling is a common phrase that defines the discrimination felt when finding a job after 50. Women seem to be the hardest hit.

This group of job seekers are referred to as “The Unemployables”: too young to retire, but too old to get hired. These people have clearly fallen through the cracks into a monster pit of unemployment, and fear there’s no end in sight.

What Companies Won’t Admit:

Downsizing is an all-too-common way for companies to legally “clean house.” Unfortunately, many older employees fall victim to corporate prejudice.

For example, Acme Co. might single out a group of employees to lay off —generally older and/or higher-paid. Then, turn around and hire entry-level workers for half the pay. Or, downsize, restructure, and bundle several duties into one job.



A general mindset of companies is to assume older applicants have more of a liability and require a higher salary than younger applicants. This is a bleak reality for those used to mid-range, white-collar experience trying to find a job after 50.

As a result, this group tends to stay unemployed longer. It’s hard for them to land a decent job, even with a degree and many years of experience. Many have to settle for menial work.

So is there any hope for the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers?

The answer is, yes. Instead of lying about your age or spending thousands on a facelift, a little panache in your application gives you a better chance of scoring that interview.

Here are Five Tips for Finding a Job After 50:

  1. It is no longer impressive to list the last 20 years’ of job experience on your resume , because this only confirms your age. Instead, create an “Other Experience” category and list your accomplishments without dates.
  2. Rather than having a traditional resume that dates your experience chronologically, try a functional resume, which focuses more on your skills and experience. A functional resume highlights your strengths and works well for those with long-time experience. Having a functional resume along with a strong cover letter will strengthen your position and show you are confident.
  3. Enter the interview with a positive, cheerful attitude. Put on your best performance and be ready to sell your expertise and track record of success in that position. Share your stories and achievements. Show them that you have a high work ethic and you are committed to doing your professional best to help them succeed.
  4. Value yourself. Over-enthusiasm or appearing desperate will not win you any points. What gets you that job offer is your ability to convey that you are the best person to solve their specific problem. Stay focused and clear, but engaging and approachable.
  5. Be flexible with your salary. Maybe you earned high-nineties in your last position, but do you really need that now? Think about it — your direct competition is fresh out of college and will work for much less. Show them that you are willing to accept a lower salary to get in the door. Remember to mention in your cover letter that your salary is negotiable or flexible.

By showing potential employers that age is more than just a number — it signifies your commitment and skill — you will stand a much better chance of being hired. Good luck!

All my life, I faced sexism and racism and then, when I hit 40, ageism.
—Rita Moreno