So you’re Older. Are you wiser?

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First, age discrimination is illegal.  Does it happen? Sometimes, but it’s hard to prove.  Being an older worker can affect your job search, however it’s nothing that should hold you back from successfully gaining employment.  You’ll just need to be very wise in how you conduct your job search.

There are plenty of things you can do to overcome the bias some employers may have against older workers.  The strategy is a three-part process:

Apply to jobs that make sense for your experience level.

If you’ve been management for quite a few years, it’s not going to make sense to apply for entry level positions. Hiring managers will see that and discard you as over qualified.  If you are doing this because you want to transition into a new career then you’ll have to consider strategies specifically geared toward career transitions – such as strong networking, cover letters that clearly convey your career goals, etc.

Create a resume that gets you the interview.

An employer should not be able to determine your age by looking at your resume.  What an employer should see is that you are clearly qualified for the position.  A good resume will get you interviews and one step closer to a job.
Below are things to pay attention to you on your resume.

  • Education section. If you haven’t graduated in the last five years do not list graduation dates for high school or college.  School graduation dates are an easy way for employers to quickly determine your age.
  • Work Experience Section. You should only go back 10 – 15 years of experience on your resume.  First, and most obvious, the more years you go back the easier it is for employers to determine your age.  Second, employers are mostly interested in your most recent experience.
  • Skills section. Make sure you include software, hard and soft skills essential to the job.


Ace the interview.

If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2 you should be getting calls for interviews but you may be thinking –  They’ll know my age when they meet me at the interview.  To this I say – it depends.

Follow these tips.

  • Dress to impress. Take time to get a professional outfit.  Get your hair trimmed.  Consider a color if you feel your grays are making you look and feel older.  Men, limit facial hair as this will make you look older.
  • Watch your posture and expression. Walk tall, with energy and purpose.  Try to be cognoscente of smiling to convey a sense of openness, wellbeing, and interest.
  • LISTEN! A big mistake job seekers make is not truly listening to the questions during the interview and giving answers that are not relevant to the question.  Be careful not to monopolize the conversation, you may come across as a know it all.
  • Teamwork.  Have good examples of how you contributed and worked as part of team. There should be an opportunity at some point of the interview to share this type of info.
  • Software/Technology Skills. Educate yourself before you go to the interview about any technology skills that may be needed for the position and ensure you meet the requirements. Share how much you enjoy learning and give examples of how you’ve taken classes or taught yourself new skills.
  • Strengths. Highlight strengths you may bring to the table. Are you reliable?  Are you one of those persons that gets to work on time and hardly out sick?  Let them know.  Do you do well under pressure because of your depth of experience?  Give examples.  Are there skills you have that could only be gained by the years of experience you have?  Clearly communicate this.

To be successful in the job search process keep in mind the above if you are an older worker.  It’s your job to present yourself as someone who is energetic and capable, and highlight your strengths.

Read our other articles regarding resumes and interviewing to gain more insight.

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