Will You Still Hire Me when I am Over 50? The Effects of Implicit and Explicit Age Stereotyping on Resume Evaluations

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European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology

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Multiple studies have found that older workers may be disadvantaged in their job search due to explicit age stereotypes. However, no published research has examined the effect of both explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) negative age stereotypes against older workers on hiring decisions. The current study fills this gap by using an experimental design to simultaneously examine how both explicit and implicit age stereotypes affect the evaluation of resumes for older and younger job applicants. Participants completed measures of explicit age stereotypes via a questionnaire and implicit age stereotypes with an Implicit Association Test focused on older and younger working-age people. They then completed a resume screening task that included younger and older potential applicants. Results showed that participants’ explicit age stereotypes positively influenced the evaluation of younger applicants’ resumes but had no significant effect on the evaluation of older applicants’ resumes. Conversely, implicit age stereotypes had a negative effect on the evaluation of older applicants’ resumes but had no significant effect on the evaluation of younger applicants’ resumes. The results suggest that both implicit and explicit age stereotypes may harm older job applicants’ hireablity, but through different pathways.


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