Nothing says “Thanks, but no thanks” like a job interview for a 56 year old woman like me who is trying to improve her lot in life. It is not like I have been hogging the great jobs all these years. Thirty-four years ago, I started out as the junior secretary with the fancy college degree. Now I am the elderly junior secretary with fancy college degree. I conclude that at 56, the “mom job” I have is probably all I am going to get.
The job world will not wait until you realize each personal goal. Through the entire drama of my life, I worked. When I reached 50, I thought the time had come for me to land a great job. At the fanciest shop in town I splurged on a black silk interview suit. Although this suit was supposed to open doors for me, it failed. With the right accessories, I could still appropriate this outfit for the cruise I cannot afford. At my most recent interview, I chose dark slacks, boots and a cashmere crew which I belted. My heart sank when I met the woman whose imminent retirement created the opening for which I was interviewing: she was my age.
Recently, two women younger than I interviewed me for a job at a deep pocketed educational institute. I sat in their office, smile frozen on my face while they recounted how they had chosen a twenty-three year old assistant for their powerful boss’s wife over other candidates with much more experience. I did not get hired.
The aged can be ageist. One interviewer, a man about five years older than I asked me if I could stay involved (I took that as “awake”) at the job with his company even though he planned to be away on leave during the first few months of my prospective employment. Examples of my resourcefulness failed to persuade and I lost out to a younger person. Even though another job for which I interviewed required “web design and maintenance”, an interviewer my age or older questioned my competence in that area. No doubt he thought my expertise was in telexing, typewriting and shorthand. He dispatched my web ability with “We have people to do that anyway” and hired someone twenty years younger than I.
The first job I had was in the sales office of a fancy New York hotel. The Human Resources person hired 22 year old me at a low salary and my bosses were left to suffer the consequences. I was no bargain: I cried at the drop of a hat and I went through reams of stationery in pursuit of an error free typing masterpiece. Feminists were in full force at the time and a personnel representative asked a group of us newly hired young women what we would do if someone visibly pregnant applied for a job in our company. Today I believe that a visibly pregnant woman would have a better chance of landing a job than a visibly aged woman. I know because a visibly pregnant woman was chosen over me recently. I am tired of my company hiring and promoting women twenty years younger than I and offering them much more pay-wise. Ageism is improverishing.