Combatting Ageism…Can It Be Overcome?

Sadly, one of the challenges in job search today is having to deal with Ageism. And even sadder, is age discrimination for people who are about 45+. Not that it is fair to discriminate based on any age, but the problem has expanded to the “younger, older” people if you will. To complicate matters, many people who are now classified as the “long-term unemployed” often fall into this category of 45+ and must endure the biases about being out of work for a long period as well as the fact that they are “mature” workers.

Sometimes the discrimination is somewhat discreet, with a job seeker sensing the problem in action… or via awkward questions during interviews.  Other times, the bias is very direct with an interviewer stating the age concern as a reason the person is being ruled out. Even better, I have seen a couple of emails where a candidate is told that they are too old! (Can you imagine that someone would be foolish enough to put that in writing?!)

Is it possible to overcome ageism? Well, as I always say, there are some things we can control and other things we cannot, whether we are talking about ageism or anything else in life. The priority is to focus on what you can control and do whatever you can to increase the odds that people will see you for your VALUE and not focus on your age.  After that, commend yourself for a job well done and take pride in your efforts.  So here are some ideas that may help:

  • Physical Appearance:  It is important to present a professional, up to date image – is your haircut dated? Is your clothing in style? Your wardrobe does not need to cost a fortune but it should be in sync with the times.
  • Technology: Be aware of what today’s standards are and what is accepted as general knowledge. If you do not know what a tablet, iPad, or kindle is, then you appear dated. Are you using a smartphone of some sort? Do you know what FaceBook is? Do you know what LOL means?  Do you know how to use email? You do not need to be an expert on all of these but if you want to be viewed as cutting edge, then you need to understand the jargon and usage of such items.
  • Résumé and LinkedIn Profiles: How far back do you go? More than the last 15 years is usually not necessary, unless there is older experience that is relevant to your current target. If that is the case, there are a variety of ways to present that information without reflecting how old you are. (And please, delete words like “seasoned” from your résumé!)
  • Energy: Do you reflect an energetic image or a tired one? Be sure to regularly participate in physical activities that improve energy levels and foster a youthful image.
  • Salary Flexibility: Sometimes employers and recruiters fear that older workers will want too much money.  And while it is always nice to have a salary increase, job seekers need to show flexibility. Keep in mind that your paycheck is not just about salary – there are usually various other benefits that you may be able to negotiate (health benefits, vacation time, etc.)
  • Market your strengths: Be targeted. Focus on your strengths and how you can help the employer. Showcase the value you bring to the table. It is about what you can do for THEM.

Do you have any other ideas? Please share them!


Time to refresh your elevator speech!

Most of you have heard of an “Elevator Speech,” right? The story goes something like this – let’s say you have an interview for a job you really want. You get into the elevator on the first floor of the building and find out the other person in the elevator is the head honcho who is going to have the final say in whether you get hired.  You now have about 60 seconds to ride in the elevator with her to the top floor.  When she finds out that you are the candidate under consideration, she seems curious about you. What “speech” can you give her in that elevator ride to peak her interest and ensure that you get the offer? Ahhhhh! If you don’t know, then you need to figure this out – and fast!

You meet people all the time, especially if you are networking, attending professional organization meetings, and actively pursuing job leads. Sometimes, you really only have about an “elevator ride” worth of time to impress someone or not. So what can you do? Try to identify what you really want to market about yourself and what sets you apart out there.  What value do you add? What do you want other networking professionals to remember about you? Practice your “elevator speech” out loud. Listen to other people’s answers when you ask them what they do – what impresses you? Who do you remember and why? These are not easy questions to answer – but investing some time and careful thought into your “elevator speech” can create a lot of opportunities for you.

If you are at a networking event, be sure that your interaction is not “just about you.”  It’s important  to focus on building relationships, too.  So show interest in the other person and ask how you might be able to help them. You will certainly be remembered for that!


Ring in the New Year with a fresh approach for your search

The New Year is a great time to charge forward with new ideas and commitments.  So, if you’ve been in a job search for a while, now is a great time to gear up with a fresh start and IGNITE your search!

Review and evaluate your existing plan and activities. Here are some questions to ask in assessing what is working and what is not:

  • What is your job target? Are you clearly conveying this to others and on your résumé?
  • Have you gotten feedback from others about the strength of your career documents – résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile?
  • Are you getting calls for interviews? Are they for the right job target?
  • Have you had many interviews but no offers? Why?
  • Are you actively networking? Are you establishing quality relationships?
  • Do you know how to reach out to new contacts (appropriately) on LinkedIn?
  • Are you using a variety of methods to search for your new job or only using online job boards?
  • Do you have colleagues who will give you honest feedback and support?

Then, create a new plan that ignites your search based on what you have learned in your assessment. The most important step is to treat your search as a “job” with goals and target dates that will keep you moving forward:

  • Be sure to have a “to do” list that is translated into manageable weekly and monthly goals that are realistic and that push you forward
  • Keep your goals POSTED where you can see them every day!
  • Use an organized system to track your contacts, companies you’ve interviewed with, and the status of anything to do with your search.  (One FREE resource for tracking this info can be found with

Use this opportunity to step back and recharge. A little reflection and organization will go a long way in setting things in motion. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful new year!


Is Self-Promotion Scary?….It Should Be!

Are you afraid of self-promotion during your job search? Many people worry about giving off a self-centered impression that will turn others away. If you are handing out your resume all over the place, talking about yourself, and focusing on your personal job needs, then they are right.  This will definitely turn others off. It will scare others away.

Career Management is a life-long process……it is not about just having an updated resume when you need it.  In today’s market, it takes effective networking, a strong online presence, and of course, powerful career documents ready to go.

It is the idea that everything you do creates an impression and offers the opportunity to engage others.  It is about visibility, accessibility, and demonstrating a knowledge-base and value that you hold. This approach engages others and attracts others to want to know you because they have high regard for what you can offer.

Here are some ideas for non-scary ways to engage others:

Grow a strong network – focus on relationships not just numbers.

  • Help others – by helping others they will want to help you.
  • LinkedIn –convey your strengths and value as it relates to work experience and your impact. Participate in linkedin groups sharing knowledge and resources.
  • Read and Share – share valuable tools and information on social media vehicles.
  • Professional Associations – be an active member and contributor, not only when you are in transition.
  • Volunteer – get involved in community service and other projects that open doors to meet new people.

Good things will come out of this. Being a valuable contributor in the world gets you noticed. Others find these approaches to be an inviting way to connect with you.

Connect the Dots to Get Those Interviews!

Remember those “dot to dot” coloring book pages when you were a kid? The page was covered with numbered dots…1,2,3… that you had to connect in order to uncover a hidden picture? The dots were clearly numbered and it was obvious how to follow them…8,9,10… and make connections in order to reach the end goal. I remember how much fun it was to see the picture emerging as I continued… 21,22,23… And if I did the picture together with a friend… 31,32,33…it was like a competition to see who would be first to figure out what the picture was. We would eagerly complete the connections so we could enjoy the next step–coloring it all in.

Successful job search is kind of like those “dot to dots”…53,54,55… It is all about connecting the dots for others. It starts with a targeted résumé that helps the recruiter or employer to see or “connect” that your talent is a close match with their needs. During the interview, it’s about connecting personally with the interviewer and gearing your responses to the connections–discussing how you can add value to their organization…71,72,73…  We all know how important networking is, right? We need to connect with others and establish strong relationships. We can help our network connect with us and increase the odds that they think of us for various projects and opportunities.

Sometimes we assume others are on the same page as us. Perhaps we think our talent should be obvious from brief background information…89,90,91… But employers who are interviewing many candidates for a position can use a little assistance! Help them connect the dots. Help them to see the picture emerge as the interview progresses. Steer them to the connections they may need to influence them…98,99,100…  Then get those job offers coming and enjoy coloring it all in!

[*This column was inspired from a recent tweet by Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers. You can follow her]