How to Overcome Age Discrimination in Your Job Search
No employer would admit to this, but a candidate’s age is often a significant factor in the hiring manager’s decision-making process. While anti-discrimination laws have worked in favor of reducing layoffs because of an employee’s age, there is a bias in the hiring process that still exists, which companies often justify by saying they want to be modernized and following the current trends.
The good news is that attitudes are now changing. Age discrimination, although it is a factor in some hiring cases, is possible to overcome with the right mindset and approach. The key to overcoming discrimination is to not get discouraged by your age, and to present yourself in a way that will enable you to seem current, contemporary, and on par with (and even better than) younger candidates.
Fight the stigma
Yes, you may be older than some of the other candidates you are competing with for a particular position. But don’t let the fear of age discrimination get into your head. Look at the positive aspects of your seniority. What experience and skills have you accumulated over the years? What are your unique selling points after years of developing your craft? What can you bring to table that a younger person cannot? It is important for you to believe in your abilities and strengths before you make others believe in you!
Tailor your resume
Do not cram your entire work history into your resume. Instead, find out about the requirements of your target position and tailor the resume to showcase your skills in that particular field. Go through your work history and identify the job experiences that will best reflect your expertise and skills in the required area, and make sure to highlight these as your main selling points.
Show your experience through your skills
Make your experience relevant by highlighting the specific skills you have acquired that hiring managers are looking for. Instead of saying “I have 5 years of experience in dealing with (a particular set of) issues”, you can present your value in different ways such as “my bosses have always complimented me on my problem-solving abilities” or “I take pride in my marketing skills”.
Learn new technology
Lack of knowledge in recent technological trends often works against older candidates looking for jobs. Therefore, it is important to keep yourself up to date with the latest technologies relevant to your field. There are a number of free online tutorials on various tech topics, including Microsoft Office and basic computer programming.
You can add a separate section to your resume called ‘Technical Skills’ to list the various courses or classes you have taken. Employers will appreciate your efforts to stay current and acquire new skills to augment your years of experience.
Address concerns related to your age in a professional manner
As a mature job seeker, it is important to address the concerns related to age in a positive, courteous, yet unyielding way. For examples, if the interviewer mentions that the rest of the team consists of young people, you could say ‘I love the company of energetic people. It motivates me to work harder.” You can tell them how you would be happy to provide a mature, experienced presence in an otherwise young and dynamic company culture.
Dress appropriately and be fashionable, if possible
It is not necessary to dye your gray hairs and hide your age – be proud of who you are. However, it is important to dress appropriately and show that you can adapt to the times. A contemporary hairstyle, well-fitting clothes, and trendy glasses can show that you take your appearance seriously. Add to that a confident walk, erect posture, and a clear voice, and you will certainly give the impression that you are not slowing down anytime soon.
Keep yourself fit
When you are physically fit, you exude positive energy that goes a long way in showing that you will have the stamina to handle your new job. Eating healthy and working out a few times each week will keep your body in great shape and have you ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way.
The hiring managers may be concerned that you earned a high salary in your last job and that you might feel insulted by a salary or position lower than what you had previously. Be flexible, and let the interviewers know it during the interview. Tell them that you already had your stint as a project manager, and now you are looking forward to getting a chance to work as a team leader
And finally, end the interview on a strong positive note. Let the interviewer know that you are now even more interested in being a part of their team. It can be a tough journey for mature job seekers, but with persistence and the right approach, you will find what you are looking for.