Fighting Against Ageism During Your Job Search

Ageism in the workplace is illegal.

Yet it persists:

Sometime in your life, someone with decision-making power will size you up based on your age, and you will be negatively impacted,” said Michael North, an assistant professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, who has studied ageism in the workplace. “Age discrimination seems to be the most socially condoned prejudice.”

It’s also tough to “prove” that you’ve been discriminated against due to your age. Unlike many other types of discrimination (such as racial or gender), age too often is seen as a “justifiable” reason for hiring managers and recruiters to make a hiring decision. And, if you’re older,  your age could be that reason.

Yet you definitely can combat ageism. Here’s how.

  1. First, focus on the value and experience you bring to the table. Remember that employers hire people to solve problems: keep the problems and results you brought to previous employers at the top of your mind.
    (Remember also that you’ve undoubtedly solved many problems as an older person!)
  2. Highlight your unique skills, knowledge, and accomplishments in your resume and cover letter. Show examples of how your years of experience equipped you with the ability to handle complex, uncomfortable situations, all while making sound decisions.
  3. Networking is crucial for older job seekers. Reach out to your existing connections and attend industry events. Doing so, no doubt, will lead to terrific job referrals. Reach out to former colleagues – even from years ago. Not only may they have opportunities for you, they understand your background.
  4. Stay current with trends and tech. Showing that you’re adaptable and can learn new skills helps counter outdated ideas about older workers “being set in their ways.” Take courses online, attend workshops, and earn relevant certifications.

Unfortunately, it would be best to understand that your job search will probably take longer than your typical search earlier in your career.

This truly can be disheartening, but if you understand this, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining a positive attitude.

Remember to celebrate” small” victories, such as getting positive feedback from a possible employer. Also, surround yourself with supportive family, friends, and former co-workers.

Address the proverbial elephant in the room.

If, during interviews, you’re getting the sense that your age is a concern for a recruiter/hiring manager, bring it up. Proactivity is your friend here if you discuss how your years of experience/maturity will benefit the company. Do so by sharing examples of how you’ve successfully worked with colleagues and clients of all ages and also how easily you’ve adapted to new challenges throughout your working life.

Ageism is a harsh reality. But all isn’t lost. Focus on your strengths, stay current in tech skills, build a robust network, and maintain a positive outlook.

If you remember just one thing from this post, let it be this: age isn’t a limitation; it’s a testament to the vast knowledge you bring to the job. The company that hires you is a fortunate one!

Debbie’s Staffing can help you find your next full-time position and/or help you work different temporary jobs as you search.

Register with us today because we often fill open positions from your database of professionals before we ever post a job online.

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