If you’re over 50 and job-hunting, and it’s been several years since you’ve been in a job search, you may be in for a rude awakening. It may be clear, and terribly discomforting . . . you’re facing age discrimination.
All of a sudden, job interviews may be much harder to land.
When you do get interviews, you may sense a resistant attitude from the interviewers that you never experienced before.
In a Forbes article, Kerry Hannon interviewed John Tarnoff, both career coaches, and asked him “What do you tell people about not being able to get job interviews after 50?“
“My advice is to admit that it’s ageism. Be fantastic. Engage, ask questions, be of service, be a problem-solver, be a part of a solution. Let yourself roll right over the ageism.
You also need to be strategic. Assess your skills, interests and opportunities. Do an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. Reach out to close friends, family and colleagues to solicit their views and constructive feedback.
Understand that you’re not going to be able to fight this on your own, but through your network. You need to network to find the people who get you. Those people will bring in more people who will get you…that’s how you are going to get results.”
How can you keep age discrimination from jeopardizing your career goals?
Accept that ageism will follow you, or precede you, throughout the networking, interviewing and hiring process.
But take heart. There are many companies out there that welcome diversity in all forms, including age because, according to legal recruiter Wendy Schoen:
“Those companies gain decades of experience across a wide swath of areas in their companies. They gain mentors to new employees, up-and-coming managers, and experts in areas that are hard to find experts. The older workers get to stay involved, stay needed and can do so at a much reduced “demand” level and/or with a flexibility in their daily or weekly schedule and/or different benefits etc.”
And there are many things you can do to overcome this challenge, and position yourself to land a great-fit gig.
Here’s your game plan to overcome age discrimination
Along with relying heavily on networking your way into your target companies, you’ll need to dispel the concern that you’re out of date with the digital age.
As much as possible, keep pace with your younger competitors who are social media savvy, active on various social networks, and have built a strong online presence.
Align your LinkedIn profile with your resume focus, optimize and fully populate all applicable LinkedIn sections with plenty of relevant keywords to boost your personal SEO, and get busy leveraging LinkedIn.
And keep an eye on the quality and number of search results for your name by self-Googling about once a week.
Target companies that value older workers
Focus your efforts on identifying and investigating companies that appreciate the experience and wisdom that comes with age.
AARP suggests 7 ways to find these kinds of companies:
1. Start with their website
Look for signs that they value diversity in all its forms. You’ll especially see this in photos on the website.
2. Scout their social media
Check the profiles of employees (especially on LinkedIn) to see if the company has workers age 50 and over. Are they and the company itself posting information that indicates diversity?
3. Look around the room
In interviews, notice whether there is age diversity among the employees you observe.
4. Analyze their recruitment efforts
Review job ads for language that emphasizes diversity as well as for references to benefits. And look at where the company is advertising for new employees. Is it using platforms aimed at diverse workers, including older ones?
5. Contact your contacts
Solicit informational interviews with employees at the company. They may be able to give you insight about how welcoming the organization is to older workers.
6. Check the employer pledge program
More than 1,000 companies have signed the AARP Employer Pledge, which affirms that they stand with AARP in valuing older workers and believe that people age 50-plus should have a level playing field in hiring and in the workplace.
7. Use Google, Glassdoor and other review sites
Look for stories about the company and any history of age discrimination. Search on the name of the company with ‘ageism’ or ‘age discrimination.’
How do you get back into, and used to, networking again?
1. You may need to re-boot your job search strategy.
Go back to targeting, researching, and defining your personal brand. If you haven’t done this initial deep-focus work, you may be in for a prolonged job search.
2. Reconnect with your existing network.
Think of all the people you know, across various aspects of your personal and professional lives. Practice “give to get” networking.
3. Reach out to new people on a regular basis.
Cast a far-reaching net to build out your network (online and off-line) with fresh faces, including executive recruiters and people working at your target companies.
4. Create a personal brand communications plan to stay top-of-mind with your network.
Network and stay top-of-mind with people who can help you penetrate the “hidden” job market, where most people land jobs. LinkedIn, for one, gives you several often overlooked ways to make people aware of you, and the value you offer.
More details in my post, How Do I Rebuild My Network for Executive Job Search?
When you do get interviews, how do you deal with potential age discrimination?
In a Next Avenue article from a few years ago, Paul Bernard offered 7 Things to Say in an Interview, for job seekers over 50:
1. Prove that experience has taught you when (and when not) to take risks.
2. Note that you’re an innovator, but not someone who’s constantly looking to reinvent the wheel.
3. Demonstrate that you’re flexible.
4. Explain that you’re skilled in social media, but also know the importance of one-on-one connections.
5. Highlight your collaborative skills, but make sure the interviewer realizes you know how to make tough decisions on your own.
6. Enthusiastically point out that you embrace change, but also know that change can be difficult.
7. Finally, create the impression that you’re high-energy and loyal.
For more ways to nail the interview, see my post, Prepare to Ace & Brand Your Executive Job Interviews.
And remember my Secret Weapon for Job-Winning Interviews.