I get a lot of email from people who are 50 years old and older and never expected to be unemployed at this stage in their career. Many of these people are annoyed that they are not appreciated for how much they know. Others are bitter, angry or indignant. Often times, these complaints come down to one thing: age discrimination.

Hiring managers know they shouldn’t discriminate based on age, but they do it anyway. Even when the victim has proof, usually a lawsuit is not as appealing as just getting a job. Ridding the world of injustice is a luxury for those who do not have trouble paying their grocery bills — now or during retirement.

I have not experienced age discrimination, but with sex discrimination I have found that bitterness and anger only hurt me. I am certain I have missed opportunities because I am a woman. But in my early twenties, when I was bitter and angry about sex discrimination, I was bitter and angry wherever I went. And my unpleasant personality hurt me way more than any lost opportunities.

Most hiring managers do not discriminate against women, or older people, but all hiring managers discriminate against people who are angry and bitter. And they should, because angry, bitter people are difficult to work with. So if you want to get a job, you need to stop being angry about the fact that people discriminate against you.

It’s very hard to hide anger and bitterness – they poke out of any little opening they can find. The fastest way to get rid of them: Convince yourself that most people are basically good, and when you encounter an asshole, assume he's an aberration and move on.

I have spoken with recruiters about age discrimination, and recruiters say that age is not an issue if the candidate does not make it an issue; enthusiastic, curious, and ambitious candidates are gems no matter what the age. But some candidates don't want to work for someone younger than they are. Some candidates can't hear constructive criticism because they assume it’s ageism. These people are doomed in the job market because they come off looking bitter. Before you cite ageism, ask yourself who, really, is making the big deal about your age.

My mom is a great example of someone who has overcome the age barrier. She is almost 60 but re-entered the job market at 50. She has received many promotions and she loves her job. I am convinced that her success is due, in part, to the fact that she is never angry about being old, and she is never bitter about reporting to someone twenty years younger than she is.

While my mom is just one person, she is a good example. She has a lot more experience in life than the people she works with, and she could lord that over people in a you-can-learn-from-me way. But instead she focuses on things that are new to her — what she can learn, what she can accomplish. In that way, she conveys the bright-eyed excitement that is essential in an enthusiastic employee.

So if you want to beat discrimination, try to ignore it. I am not suggesting that ageism is okay. It's not. But it exists, and you need to figure out how to get a job in the real world. So accept where you are in life and embrace that. If you are pleased with who you are then you will have a much easier time convincing a hiring manager that she will be pleased with you.

For all of you who are disgusted by the rampant discrimination that really does exist, I have found that the best way to change workplace culture is to infiltrate. You can't change workplace culture by whining from the outside, but you can change it once you are part of it. I have always used my positions in management to hire a diverse staff. You can promote diversity, too. Once you get a job.

Here’s the worst performance review I ever received: “You were great.” The review was via email, and when I commented on its brevity, my boss said the “outrageous Internet salary” he gave me was testament to how much he wanted to keep me.

Apparently he did not know that survey after survey has shown that salary is not the most important factor in job satisfaction. People want to feel useful, they want to be challenged, and they want to be recognized for their contribution. A key way that managers can do this for their employees is to conduct a careful, well-planned and insightful review. (A good fallback is to use a systematic approach, like performance appraisal software.)

But good performance review takes heart. You need to really see the employee and understand what motivates her. You need to understand where she wants to go, because the job of you, the manager, is to help her get there. And of course, a good manager will show the employee why she should want for herself what her manager wants for her.

An employee knows right away how prepared you are for the review, so don’t bother trying to fake it; this is not a college essay test, this is real life. Lack of preparation means that you do not take the review seriously, so you can bet the employee will ignore what you say. Lack of preparation means mentoring and leading are not high priorities, and managers who do not make those high priorities are managers who have ill-prepared disloyal employees.

Here’s the best review I ever had: My boss sat down with me and handed me two typed pages — one of my strengths and one of my weaknesses. This might seem like standard practice, but to do this practice well requires thoughtful preparation. In the strengths section my boss highlighted areas of my performance that I didn’t think he noticed — like that I am a strong mentor. He also highlighted areas that I didn’t realize were strengths — like that I can lead without explicit authority.

When my boss got to the weakness section of the review he had already won me over with his insight, so I listened attentively. He told me that I needed to be more discreet when I want to disagree with him. And he gave me examples of ways that I had disagreed with him over the past year, and ways that I could have done it without publicly undermining him. He also explained to me how to make sure that people don’t do that to me, their manager, now that they have seen me do it to my manager. In ways like this, my boss let me know that he really wanted me to succeed, and he was going to help me to make sure it happened.

There was no raise at that review (I had already blackmailed him for a raise earlier in the year and he had given me the raise and explained why my approach was not good for building relationships). There was also no quantification (“You get a six for teamwork, you get a five for cleaning up the kitchen…”). What there was in that review was a deep concern for me, as a person, and a deep appreciation for what I had done for his company.

So take this opportunity to make a big impression in someone’s life. You do not get the chance to save starving children, but you can make the world a better place by approaching reviews in a way that makes each employee feel cared about and important. This goes for employees who suck, too. In fact, people usually suck because they hate their job and feel like it’s not doing anything for them. It was layoff season at the end of last year. If you couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the person at that point, you owe it to everyone to make the best of the situation with a well-prepared review. And for those of you who have a boss who has rescheduled your review six times, or not scheduled it at all: send her this column.