Age discrimination is a missed opportunity for companies and candidates.
There are countless people, especially women, who lose their jobs and leave their chosen professions because they can’t get work. Sales is a particularly difficult field yet age discrimination affects probably affects all industries.
I often coach professionals over 50 and sometimes as young as 40 who are very concerned about their ability to get work. Should they include their graduation year on their resumes? Should they go back to school?
A recruiter I highly regard (who asked to remain anonymous) said that many candidates just aren’t “with it”. They dress old, act old and have no energy. While some of her clients specifically ask for younger candidates, she felt she could “sell in” an older candidate who had the right experience and attitude and could fit into the company.
If you are looking for a job and ageism is affecting you, here’s what you can do about it:
1. Be a learner! Keep expanding your knowledge base. Stay up on the latest trends. Take a course to freshen up your skills (I love Coursera courses, accessible and free). Invest in yourself.
2. Polish your story. Own the knowledge and experience you have gained through the years. Match it to the needs of the job. Answer questions thoughtfully and substantially.
3. Own your fear and do something about it. Hire a coach or lean on a friend to help you weed out the negatives from your interview skills. Don’t forget your body language and vocal tone. If you feel defeated it will undoubtedly show up in your body and voice.
4. Express passion for the work. Inspire the hiring manager with the value you bring to the job. Along with passion, it’s critical to show up to the interview with energy.
5. Look the part. Dress appropriately for the interview – not too old or too young. Freshen up your look with current styles and get a great haircut.
6. Be flexible. Companies want to hire professionals who are adaptable and not trapped into one way of doing things. You need to fit into their culture (or it’s not the right job for you).
7. And finally, be open up to new opportunities outside your chosen field. There are dozens of successful people who made a change for a whole host of reasons. If you do decide to begin your “second act” it can be quite rewarding. I did and I love it!