Maria Heidkamp on the obstacles faced by midcareer job seekers

Thought leaders share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at SXSW EDU 2022

Older job seekers have a tougher time landing in the workforce than their younger counterparts, according to Maria Heidkamp, director, program development and senior researcher, Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

WorkingNation sat down with Heidkamp at SXSW EDU in Austin.

“When older workers are out of the labor force, they have a much harder time than younger and midcareer workers trying to get reemployed. They’re more likely to fall into the trap of being out of work six months or more,” says Heidkamp.

“When that happens, they’ve got this gap on their resume. That makes it really hard for employers to consider them. They also face age discrimination.”

Heidkamp says there is confusion in workforce development around the older worker. It’s not a given that leaving a job means intended retirement, according to Heidkamp.

“I think it’s a good time for employers to be rethinking how they hire. Whether that’s changing the algorithms that dictate who gets passed an automated hiring tool,” says Heidkamp.

“Age discrimination is rampant. We need, as a culture, to figure out how to get past that. They have to be considering older job applicants the same way they would consider other job applicants based on their skills and knowledge.”

Learn more about Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.