A job search in your 50s can be stressful, frustrating, exciting, empowering, or all of the above. Whether you’ve been blindsided by an unexpected layoff, dream of making a career change, or just want to finish out your last few years before retirement, it may help to get intel from women who’ve been through the struggle.

One thing you’ll hear countless times is that ageism runs rampant—and it seems to have gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the ABA (American Bar Association) Journal predicts a rise in age discrimination lawsuits against employers. During the pandemic, 2.9 million older workers were pushed into early retirement. Additionally, they have been slower to be hired back. According to AARP, around 28 percent of older jobseekers found employment each month between April and September of 2020 compared to 32 percent of younger workers.

Women tend to be hit much harder by age-related discrimination compared to men, particularly during the job search. Nearly 62 percent of women say they’ve experienced ageism compared to 52 percent of men, according to a June 2021 report from the research firm WerkLabs. Barriers to snagging a coveted position are even greater for older Black women who face double discrimination, according to The Washington Post.