By MERCEDES M. CARDONA, For The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — For Marc Karell, the end came unexpectedly. In February the 53-year-old environmental engineer was laid off.
As he spoke to other laid-off employees of the same consulting firm, he found they had something in common: They were all older staffers.
With unemployment edging toward 10 percent and companies going through several rounds of layoffs, many are now cutting from the top ranks. More workers aged 50 and older are job-searching in the middle of a recession.
Recruiters say experience is still valued, but the image of the older job seeker as overqualified and overpriced is still a hurdle to overcome.
A study sponsored by the AARP found the same resumes got more calls for interviews if they appeared to come from a 32-year-old than from a 57-year-old.
That was eight years ago, but "we believe in recessions things get worse," said Marc Bendick, an economist with Bendick & Egan Economic Consultants in Washington, D.C. who did the research.
A second experiment sent the resumes with cover letters touting either qualities associated with older people, or those associated with younger people. The older workers still got fewer interviews, but those among them who touted younger qualities — defined as creativity, energy or technological skills, among other things — did better.
"Unfortunately, we can't change society's stereotypes, but individuals can separate themselves by noting how they don't match the stereotype," said Bendick.