A funny tendency has appeared in Ukraine over the last years. People complain that it is possible to find a good job only if you are young and beautiful, but if you are over 40 and have not made a career, your chances are close to zero. If you still have a job, be ready! Soon your employer will start forcing you into resignation in order to take someone younger.   

ForUm has decided to investigate why such situation exists in the country and what should be done to keep the old job or find a new one for people over 40.

Seek, and ye shall find

Indeed, jobseekers over 40 had problems finding a job before the law "On employment of population", forbidding employers to limit sex and age in vacancies, came into force this January.
After unexpected lay-off, 50-year-old Volodymyr, IT specialist with higher education, could not find a new job for a year and half.

"All vacancies for program developer position stipulated age under 35. When I was calling and saying I was 35, I was getting the same answer - sorry, your age unfits you for this position. It is believed that after 35 people have slower reaction and attention. This is so not true. If a person is healthy, he works as fast as a younger man. Older people just do not run and jump, but they have experience and can run a serious project, while young people can hardly do it. Moreover, employers prefer young people, so they can bring them up to hand, while it is hardly possible to change or press on people over 40. Experienced specialists are aware of their worth."

According to Volodymyr, people over 40 should not be embarrassed about the fact that they cannot find a job for a long time, because the problem is not in them, but in the employers.

"If the employer is a competent specialist and ahs knowledge of the sphere he manages, he will recognize an experienced jobseeker when he sees him. But it happens more often when employers don't know a thing about the sphere they are looking workers for. For example, once I had a job interview with the director-musician, who had no clue about programming. Such people follow the principle 'I like you or I don't like' when decide to hire a candidate, and such people pay attention to the age and other things."

While Volodymyr was looking for a job, he discovered that there were ten times more seekers than vacancies. Then he understood that the most important thing was the ability to present himself properly.

"I was sending CV, going to interviews, searching job websites every 2-3 hours. Having sent the CV, I always called but every time got the answer "We will call you back if we are interested". However, in 90% of case nobody ever did. And in my CV I indicated age of 40. Maximum 45, but never 50."

Finally, Volodymyr managed to find a job in a good company, but only as a storekeeper.

"I did not feel comfortable in the store. The majority of workers were people without higher education, and I did not fit in. Soon I learned than my partner, a 23-year-old school graduate, was taken after the first call, while I had to call repeatedly and insist on my candidature. I was lucky that the director recognized me as an experienced worker and transferred to the service department, where the work was more complicated and people were different."

Volodymyr recommends other jobseekers, found themselves in similar situation, not to give up.

"If you have lost a job at this age, and you have an apartment and additional sources of income, try to find a simpler job with smaller salary, but do not stay home unoccupied, otherwise you risk losing your experience and ability to solve tasks and make decisions as well. If you need bigger salary, then do not hesitate to run around. Learn to present yourself, to talk to people, to do everything psychologists recommend for such situations. If you have decided to change the professional orientation, go for a profession, which meets your intellectual level. For example, if you were a program developer, look for a manager, economist or accountant position, not a cook. Such drastic change will do no good.  It is degradation, and it is better to spend time seeking for better opportunity."

Being a good man is more important

To learn about preferences of employers, ForUm decided to ask them directly.

HR manager of "Media-Pro" company Olena Dembovska believes that age of jobseekers is not important for their company.

"Our company hires sales managers. Such vacancies are always in question. As you know, there is the law, forbidding employers to limit the age and sex of potential candidates. We never indicate age in sex in our vacancies, but we do prefer women, mostly because of average salary. Men, as bread-earners, always seek jobs with higher salary. As for the age, we do not have preferences at all. It is important for a candidate to be active, educated, communicative and hard working. If a candidate has certain experience, it is even better. If we have a 50-year-old candidate, the first thing we look at is his experience in sales and his ability to learn new things. If such candidate does not have an experience, I do believe he will be difficult to teach. Many older people are afraid of computers and various innovations. But if there are skills and experience, there are no age limits. Moreover, we always give a candidate a chance to demonstrate his capacities during the trial period."

At the same time, director of Global IT company Yegor Krashchenko has not had a chance to hire a candidate over 40.

"Our company is small, and the team is young, mostly under 30. We hire IT specialists, but soon will need sales managers and IT engineers. If a specialist over 40 comes for interview, we will consider his candidature as any other. I believe personal qualities are very important. If a jobseeker is an experienced specialist and a decent person, the age does not matter."

There is always a way out

Despite the fact that some employers are welcoming, the overall picture is sad. According to the State Statistics Service, third part of unemployed is people at the age of 40-70. The number of unemployed registered by the Service in 2012 made 508.8 thousand people, and 229.9 thousand of them are people over 40.

So, what should be done if a person has lost his job?

According to psychologist Natalia Kukhtina, the first thing to do is to set proper mood and start looking.

"In our country there is a stereotype that specialists under 30 are better candidates. There is no logic in such belief. A specialist under 30 has not obtained necessary qualification and professional skills he will have when he is over 40.
Jobseekers over 40 should think positively and never consider their age as an obstacle. Instead, they should turn their age into an advantage. 'I am healthy, I have good professional base and experience. I can and I will' - these are thoughts every jobseeker must have while writing CV or undergoing a job interview. Moreover, do not lie about your age or skills, but focus on your potential. For example, 'I don't know this program, but I am a fast learner and I will be happy to work with it.' With such attitude, you will do just fine."

It also will not hurt to study new law on employment. In particular, the law provides for compensation costs associated with the payment of a single social contribution (in the first year of work) for an employer, who employs people over 50 for not less than two years. At the same time, the employer can be fined for early discharge of a worker.

Moreover, if you were denied the post because of 'unsuitable age', you can appeal to court and get financial recompense, lawyer Valery Dubovyk says.

"If a candidate was denied a job just because he was 52 years old, he should immediately appeal to court, as it is a serious violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. In order to prove the motive of denial, the candidate should ask for written explanation of the refusal. According to the law on public appeals, employers are obliged to provide it. If an employer motivates refusal by old age, he may have serious problems with the law.  Moreover, the candidate may have eyewitnesses of the denial or video or audio record. There was a case in Kyiv, when a man received a denial letter stipulating his age was unsuitable - 60 years old. This man appealed to court and won the case."

Sometimes, when a person loses his job, it may be the time to reconsider the profession.

"Many people get their first profession under pressure of parents, friends or public stereotypes. In can happen that after some time this person realizes he does not like his job and wants to do something different. Moreover, when a person does not like his job, it may cause problems with career, colleagues, finances. If at this age a person realizes he does not want to be an economist, but a cook, for example, it is wonderful. First thing to do is to accept the change and not to ask someone's permission. Fearing changes, relatives and friends may start doubting you and your ability to learn something new at this age, and it may become an unsurpassable psychological barrier. Do not listen to anybody, take a course and start your new life," Natalia Kukhtina recommends.

Now Ukrainians have an opportunity to undergo retraining or upgrade skills in the State Employment Service. Deputy director of the Service Natalia Zinkevych told ForUm that in 2012 the Service held course on 378 professions, and the most demanded occupations were salesman, tractor driver, repairman, boiler room mechanic, cook, tailor, hairdresser, electric and gas welder.

It is also important to know that the new law on employment provides for another instrument to improve competitiveness of older citizens on the labor market. Article 30 of the Law provides for special vouchers to be given to people over 45 and with 15 years of working experience. In such a way people will get 11 thousand 630 hryvnias and with this voucher will have an opportunity to get a new profession.

However, psychologist Natalia Kukhtina does not recommend changing profession because of lack of choice. "If you think to take a new job because you cannot find an offer according to your skills and simply to adapt to new profession, don't do it. Inner psychological resistance and dissatisfaction may result into diseases or a mental breakdown."

Don't press on me, please

Yuri is 53, and for over ten years he has been working as an engineer at a chemical plant in Cherkassy. Several years ago, he underwent a heart operation, and last year he had a stroke. Now he is on a sick leave, but the HR department of the plant strongly suggests early resignation. However, Yuri needs to work for two more years to retire in accordance with the law and receive proper pension. If he retires now, he will get only invalidity pension (up to 1000 hryvnias), which is not enough even to survive. Yuri has almost accepted the fact of early resignation and thinks about finding a job as a night watch.

Lawyer Valery Dubovyk considers such situation absolutely illegal. "If a person come back to work after a sick leave and get fired by some formal reasons given, he should appeal to court for re-employment and pay-off of average monthly salary for forced unemployment.

If a person has a serious disease and there are only two years left until retirement, it is better to make an agreement to be transferred to a job with less harmful working conditions. If there is a psychological pressure, in this case it is better to resist until the end of term.

However, if your chief blackmails or threatens you into resigning, like 'you know, you are old and something can accidently fall on you', it is better to report to the police. According to the current legislation, any report on a criminal offence gets registered in the Single Registry of pretrial investigations and the very investigation starts immediately. Nobody wants to be reported, as it leads to inspections, interrogations, searches, etc. Thus, if a person has only two years to work, it is worth to fight for proper pension."

In turn, psychologist Natalia Kukhtina recommends to get ready for such situation in one's youth.
"If an employer wants to fire you, he can always find a way. Indeed, people of pre-pension and pension age are not protected in our country. For this, people should get ready for pension in advance. For example, to find a hobby which may bring some income.
A woman, for example, can recall she used to like knitting, so she can take needles and earn some money with her masterpieces."

In any case, if you have job problems, try not to connect them with your age. Even a young and healthy person may appear under pressure or become unemployed. If you are a good specialist, but have been mistreated, keep busy and fight. 

Anastasia Pika


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