“As we get older, we tend to narrow our social networks more toward closer friends and family, and this may impact reemployment speed.”

Apparently “age before beauty” doesn’t apply when looking for work. Compared to their younger counterparts, older job seekers receive fewer offers, search for weeks longer, and are ultimately less likely to find reemployment after losing a job.

“There is very robust evidence that as an individual moves beyond age 50, they experience a large penalty toward how quickly they will find a job,” says Professor Connie Wanberg who examined the U.S. government’s Displaced Worker Survey and conducted a meta-analysis of the previous research on the topic. She found a person 50 years and older is likely to be unemployed 5.8 weeks longer than someone between the ages of 30-49, and 10.6 weeks longer than individuals ages 20-29. Her paper also explored the various factors underlying the relationship between age and reemployment speed and found the explanation is not simple as many think.

“A lot of individuals think everything has to do with age discrimination,” says Wanberg. “Discrimination exists, but there are many others factors that can be at play from age-related differences in knowledge, to skills and abilities and the kind of jobs people want.” Shrinking social networks and outdated search strategies can also impact the speed at which people find work.

Wanberg says older workers should realize that they will find a job, it just may take a little bit longer. Understanding a person’s particular situation and how it may play a role in the search will ultimately help with the process.

Watch Wanberg further discuss her findings:

 

“Age and Reemployment Success After Job Loss: An Integrative Model and Meta-Analysis” Wanberg, C.R., Kanfer, R., et al, Psychological Bulletin (forthcoming)