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!