As I am working with my clients, I am finding that age discrimination doesn’t begin at 60. Many workers in their 50s and even in their 40s are being confronted with age discrimination in their job search.
To cut costs, many companies are dropping workers in these age groups through a series of layoffs, buyouts, and reorgs. These companies also are looking for replacement workers who are younger, less experienced, and thus, come more cheaply.
These actions are damaging for the more experienced workers in two ways: It means more workers in your age group will be in the job market at the same time as you are; and, you’re not exactly what these companies think they’re looking for anyway.
It would be easy to get frustrated about this situation, but there are plenty of ways to combat age discrimination and make companies look at you as the solution for their job opening. This article highlights five easy steps for you to use to avoid being tagged as an older worker.
We hope you find this helpful and be sure to check out the Web sites below for additional articles on this topic.
How to Combat Age Discrimination
1. Don’t Act Your Age
Now “Don’t act your age” isn’t what it sounds like. We’re not telling you to wear baggy shorts down to your calves and a baseball cap turned askew. We’re saying you should be yourself, but don’t concede anything to a younger job applicant just because you are 42, 49, or 57.
In all of your dealings in the job market–whether it is in your networking, cover letter, resume, or job interview–stress what you can do for this company at this time. Don’t focus on the fact that you’ve been in the business for 35 years, that you have 20+ years of management experience, or that you won the Employee of the Year Award in 1985.
None of this will be as important as the ability to convince a potential employer that you can do the job for them today, and that you can jump right into the job and immediately perform well.
2. Age-Proof Your Resume
The first place to start is with your cover letter and resume. Leave out dates, especially ones that will date you, and put the focus on your recent job experience.
Try to keep your professional experience to the last 10-15 years, and to the jobs that are pertinent to the position you are seeking. Don’t put in what you did 25 years ago, and please leave out old dates for your degrees, awards, and certifications.
Also be sure to closely monitor the job descriptions and the words companies use in them. These key words are the concepts and qualities that companies want to see in their new employees. And, in order to get your foot in the door, you’ll need to use them in your cover letter, resume, and interview.
3. Update Your Skills
While you’re looking for a new job can be a great time to update your skills. It will be important to show your potential employer that you are computer literate. If you need to, take a course or class or two on using the Internet, on mastering Word, on how to use Excel or PowerPoint.
This would also be a wonderful time to take a seminar, class, or course in your field. Brushing up with something like an accounting course, human resources seminar, drafting class, or whatever is available in your professional area, will show your potential employer that you are dedicated to staying on top of your field, constantly updating your expertise, and willing to go the extra mile to remain on the cutting edge of your profession.
4. Seek Out Sympathetic Companies
You won’t be able to change the thinking about older workers at every company. Be sure to do your homework and find the companies that are age-friendly.
There are many ways to do this. Some companies aggressively advertise that they are looking for a diverse work force, and are family-friendly, diversity-friendly, and age-friendly. You also can find many of these companies listed in magazine and newspaper articles about the best places to work.
And, there are monitoring organizations that can help here, too. AARP, the National Council on Aging, and the U.S. Administration on Aging are good places to start, as are these Web sites: www.aarp.org/careers and www.retirementjobs.com.
5. Get Your Act Together
This is probably the first thing you should do, but it’s listed last because it’s gut-check time. None of the above actions will work for you if you have the wrong attitude. In this age of downsizing, you must remember that you’re not the only one looking for a job in their 40s, 50s, or 60s. It will happen or has happened to all of us.
It’s very important to think positively…about yourself, your job prospects, and your future. A positive attitude is the first thing that comes across in a job interview; and a positive attitude will keep you going even when you come down to the final two out of 275 candidates, and still don’t get the job.
Along with making sure your attitude is positive comes the image you project. It’s essential that you look bright, alert, trim, active, and strong in your interview. So, if you need to work out, sleep better, eat well, and buy some new trim-fitting clothes, then just do it.
And don’t fear change. Be adaptable in your approach, and be willing to extend yourself, and convey this positive, forward-looking attitude to your potential employer. If you can do this, your new employer will be delighted to hire someone like you–a worker who will fit in well; grow with the job; and be reliable, responsible, and a fabulous addition to their staff.
Web Sites to Check Out for Further
on This Topic Reading
Aspirations! is written and compiled by Randi Bussin, a career counselor and entrepreneurial consultant with 25 years of experience of corporate, nonprofit, and entrepreneurial expertise. She leverages her extensive background to help mid-career professionals and entrepreneurs clarify their aspirations, develop the “big-picture,” and set realistic goals in designing a career that reflects their personal values and passions. Through focused coaching, she helps clients make steady progress and achieve their career goals.
If you would like more information on our services, please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for our newsletter.