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Nearly 40 percent of job seekers feel that their age, and not the economy, has kept them from finding a new job, according to the results of a phone poll released Dec. 28 by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement consultancy in New York.

An additional 6 percent of respondents said other forms of discrimination were their leading job hunt obstacles. About 30 percent said it was their lack of experience or education that was hindering the job search. Only 14 percent said they felt there were too few positions in their field.

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"Age is typically a self-made obstacle. There is no doubt that age discrimination still exists, but the rate at which people over 45 are finding jobs is not consistent with a widespread problem. The problem we find with many older job seekers is that they enter the process with preconceived, negative notions about their age and employers’ reaction to it, and it seriously affects the way they perform in an interview," John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.

The polled job seekers expected on average that it would take seven to 14 months to find work.

20 percent of those already unemployed predicted that it would take them an additional 10 months to find a new job. Of the 12 percent of these callers who had been out of work for four or more years, 76 percent were women who wished to return to work after raising a family.

Among callers who had been out of work for less than one year, the average duration of unemployment was 3.6 months.

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More than half the respondents (56 percent) said they believed it would take them an additional three to six months to find a new position, while 10 percent thought it would take an additional seven to 10 months and 18 percent expected the job search to take more than 10 months.

"Most callers are telling us that it is going to take three to 10 months on top of the four months they have already been searching. That is a total of seven to 14 months to find a new position. That is significantly longer than the four months it is actually taking the average job seeker to find a new job," Challenger said.

In measuring the lengths to which job seekers would go to get back on a payroll, nearly one-third (31 percent) said they were willing to accept a part-time job, even if they were overqualified, just to get back to work. However, this number was nearly equal to the number of polled job-seekers (32 percent) who said they were not willing to lower their expectations just to get back to work.

About 10 percent of respondents said they were already in less-than-ideal jobs.

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