What to Do About Ageism & Sexism in Hiring

So, what should you do when you are confronted with the small mindedness of prejudice? Walk away.

I’ve long counseled those in transition to test drive an employer when evaluating an offer. I know that’s a hard concept to accept if you’ve lost your income and have bills to pay. Nevertheless, it’s critical that you find out what you’re getting yourself into before you make a commitment. You need to know what kind of culture and leadership values you would be subjecting yourself to if you went to work for an organization.

Why? Because research shows that the number one reason a new hire doesn’t work out isn’t that they can’t do the work. It’s that they don’t fit it. Their values and goals are incompatible with those of the organization. So, if you find ageism and sexism deplorable, don’t go to work for an organization which permits them.

What’s the Alternative?

Prejudiced behavior may be more prevalent, but it’s not the norm. Therefore, the key to success in today’s job market is not to waste your time either on looking for a way into a biased employer or on bemoaning the existence of bias in general. Certainly, we should voice our disapproval of such behavior, but then we need to move on. We must invest our energy in finding those organizations that operate with the right values.

How can you do that? With employer research. It is accomplished in both direct and indirect ways.

Direct Research

· Use a browser (e.g., Google, Yahoo!, Bing) to look for published documents that describe the culture and leadership values of various employers in your geographic area, career field and/or industry.

· Connect with peers and solicit their views of employers in the discussion forums on your professional society’s Webs-site or favorite job board and in the professional groups that operate on some social media sites.

· Read the comments posted on such sites as and, but do so with a grain of salt. While many of the posts offer candid and useful assessments, others suffer from a bias all their own.

Indirect Research

· As previously noted, assess the culture and values expressed by an organization’s representatives and by the candidate literature provided in its recruiting process.

· Look for clues in the career area on employers’ Web-sites and on their Facebook pages (e.g., beware of any employer that doesn’t share employee testimonials or discuss its culture).

· Examine the leadership structure of the organization as far down as you can to see if all age cohorts and both sexes are well represented.

What’s the best way to deal with ageism and sexism in today’s job market? Don’t share your talent with the organizations that condone it. Eventually, they’ll learn or they’ll go out of business. In either case, you’re better off finding the good employers that will respect your work and not unfairly limit your success.


Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American DreamThe Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be FiredWEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the InternetThe Career Activist Republic, andWork Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System. Get them at and today.