By MINDI BRENNER | Truckee

After a successful 30-plus-year career in upper management, I decided to take a break and try early retirement. Well, that didn’t last long. I started offering childcare services to local families on a very part-time, limited basis. This eventually grew into working over 30 hours each week.

Although I was paid well for my time and loved working with all the families and children, I missed working in a business environment. I also needed affordable healthcare benefits.

So, this past spring after a few years off from my career, I started applying to local companies. I didn’t want to return to my previous career since I didn’t want a position that required travel or high pressure. Since money wasn’t driving my decision, I applied to jobs that appealed to me. I was looking for a job that offered a nice work environment, great co-workers, full-time hours, and healthcare benefits. I am available to work overtime if needed, plus I am available to work on weekends or holidays.

I applied for a variety of positions, such as receptionist, hostess, office assistant, clerical assistant, and office manager. Indeed and Craigslist were my two main job-search websites.

I figured, how hard can it be to find a job locally? Especially since Truckee employers seem to have issues with finding reliable employees. The two areas that are most challenging for employees in this area are employee housing and driving during stormy winter conditions. Well, these challenges weren’t an issue since I live locally and have dependable transportation.

I sent out numerous resumes and explained in my cover letter that I was changing careers and had a lot to offer (also referred to as transferable skills). I was interested and willing to work in an entry level position with entry level pay.

Finally, I secured a few interviews. Yes, these were entry level positions but that was fine by me. I was willing and able to learn new skills while bringing my learned skillset with me. I explained my desire to change careers, my desire to use my talents, and highlighted my reliability.

I was rejected.

If I am willing to work for entry level wages, why wouldn’t you want my years of experience? Plus, I don’t have young children, so I won’t ever miss work because of a sick child.

The stated reasons were generally the same why I was not chosen. Either the company decided to go in a different direction or someone else had industry experience. Yet the job postings specifically stated that they were entry level, no experience necessary!

I have come to the conclusion that this was clear, blatant age discrimination. What is age discrimination? The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

Our community needs dedicated members of the workforce like me; many retirees are more than willing and able to provide their experience and build new skills. According to citydata.com, Truckee’s median age is 38.6, which is 2.2 years over the California-wide median of 36.4, and we have residents of all ages contributing to volunteer efforts, participating in local recreational sports and activities, and stoking the economy through consumption. Age discrimination is unfair (and in my case I was clearly not hired for many of the positions to which I applied only after the employer met me in person). Not only that, but we have a lot to learn from past generations and the Tahoe/Truckee area’s economy would benefit from diversifying the age demographic profile of its workers.

~ Mindi Brenner grew up in the Bay Area visiting Truckee/Tahoe frequently. After pursuing her master’s in the Bay Area, she raised her children in Northern Nevada and has lived in Truckee since 2013.

1 COMMENT

  1. At age 60 I’ve experienced this a lot. While your age is a factor, it’s also the level of knowledge and experience you bring to the table, I call it “knowledge bias”. In other words, they recognize that you know more than they do and as a result, along with their egos and lack of management skills, they choose not to bring you on board. It clearly shows the level of their own competence.