I’m often asked by executives worried about job search age discrimination how they can get employers to look beyond their age, and see the value of their many years of experience.
Are you thinking (and worrying) that you’re sunk because you’re job hunting and over 50? You may be sabotaging your success by embracing a negative and hopeless mindset.
Do you approach job search networking and interviews thinking that your age is a hindrance? That’s going to come across.
Stop the negative thoughts and consider this:
You know that you offer significant value to employers who need the expertise you offer.
You know that your age makes is a huge asset. Because of your years of experience, you know things that younger workers don’t.
You know that you (probably) bring more to the table than the younger people competing for the same jobs.
According to investigative journalist Joe Kita, in an extensive AARP article:
“What most companies do not seem to understand is that older workers possess a depth of knowledge and experience that’s worth paying for, is not easily replaced and can be tapped in many different ways.
‘People walk out of companies now with an enormous amount of intellectual property in their heads,‘ says Paul Rupert, the founder and CEO of Respectful Exits, a nonprofit consulting firm that’s raising corporate awareness about age discrimination. ‘They know things that are essential to the company’s success, and if that knowledge is not captured and transmitted to the next generation, that company is losing a tremendous chunk of capital and it’ll eventually pay a price.‘”
Best Ways to Get Beyond Job Search Age Discrimination
Age discrimination is real and you’ll probably come head-to-head with it if you’re over 50, although it may not be clearly evident.
I’ve written several posts about job seach age discrimination which should reassure you that many employers certainly will value your many years of experience. You’ll also find tips to help you dispel some of the unfounded notions about age, as you’re job-hunting.
I’ve included excerpts from each post, but go directly to each one for plenty of helpful advice, to help you prepare to navigate your way around and through the ageists you’re likely to encounter.
Tips To Beat Ageism in Executive Job Search If You’re Over 50
Studies have shown that many of the notions held by some employers about older workers are unfounded and misguided.
For instance, the bias that older workers will jump ship quickly continues to impact hiring practices, although studies find that job seekers over 55 stay in jobs more than 5 times longer than younger workers.
Other unfounded assumptions include:
- Young people invest more in developing new skills.
- Young people feel more excited by their jobs.
- Older people neglect their health.
- Older people get exhausted by their work.
- Older workers are looking to slow down and coast toward retirement.
- Older workers have less interest in exploring new ideas and opportunities.
The 3-step Strategy to Conquer Ageism in Executive Job Search
What can you do about ageism in executive job search?
You need to accept that it does exist and can limit your possibilities. If you’re a 50+ executive, you may be competing against 30+ year olds. Plenty of younger people have reached this professional level, too.
Some employers won’t be interested in you. No matter how stellar your qualifications and credentials, they may only want someone younger. Obviously, this kind of company is just not a good fit for you.
But don’t despair. There are plenty of employers out there that respect and seek seasoned candidates. They want the wisdom that only comes from years of overcoming the tough business challenges.
These employers recognize that mature candidates bring many things to the table that younger folks may not. Hiring seasoned workers has many perks for employers.
How to Overcome Age Discrimination in Executive Job Search
The way to get past or beyond the age issue is by networking your way into companies that are a mutual good fit.
But how do you get back into, and used to, networking again if you’ve let that slide for too long?
1. You may need to re-boot your job search strategy, and 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. My worksheets for personal branding and job search will help you.
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 offline) 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.
Worried About Age Discrimination? 9 Things on Your Executive Resume That Show Your Age
Sadly, I’m still seeing executive resumes that look and read like the ones I was writing 15-20 years ago.
If you’re sticking to a resume with the same look and kind of content you’ve been using for decades, you’re probably in trouble.
People assessing you through your resume will probably peg you as older right off the bat, and you could experience age discrimination.
It’s time to modernize your executive resume for today’s job search.
Beyond minimizing your age, a modernized resume presents you as social media savvy and up-to-date with the new world of work in the digital age.
Keep in mind that all the information in your resume needs to revolve around what makes you a good fit for the employers you’re targeting . . . based on your company and industry research. Nothing included should be arbitrary.
If any of the things I note in my post show up in your resume – or in some cases, if something is lacking – your age is probably showing.