Sidestepping Ageism in Your Job Hunt

Age discrimination in hiring in the U.S. is illegal (true) but pervasive (maybe a yes, maybe a HELL yes) depending on who you ask and what study you believe. What we know for sure: Google ageism and job searching, and more than 1.6M results pop up. So, if you’re job hunting or angling for a promotion with your forties in the rear-view mirror, and it feels as if you are tossing resumes into a giant void — we feel you.

Worried that ageism is impacting your job search? Five experts share ways you can age-proof your job hunt, resume, and LinkedIn and even your mindset.

One of the best ways job candidates can fight ageism in hiring is to recognize and address these common myths about older workers:

  • Not technologically savvy
  • Stuck in old ways
  • Won’t work well with younger colleagues or managers
  • Less productive
  • Doesn’t really want the job
  • Looking to coast until retirement
  • Too expensive

An employer will never say these things out loud or ask questions about these points. But as a candidate you can give examples in your resume, LinkedIn profile and interviews that show these misconceptions don’t apply to you. 

Mac Prichard is the founder of Mac’s List, a job board in Portland, Oregon that helps professionals find a fulfilling career. He also hosts the weekly podcast, Find Your Dream Job.

Headshot Hero
Make your online profile stronger – and more current – with a headshot that reflects confidence in who you are today. Your headshot is a marketing tool and the first impression for potential employers and clients. Showing up looking like your photo establishes trust, conveys what you bring to the table, and shows your energy. 

Five Tips:
1) Update your wardrobe with current style trends.
2) Wear color to raise your vibration. Avoid wearing black or dull colors.
3) Think of your online photo as a handshake, look the camera straight in the eye and make a connection.
4) Communicate your confidence and presence with body language and posture.
5) Add polish with professional hair and makeup.

Alyssa Peek is a personal branding and headshot photographer for women over 40, a confidence and presence coach, and fine art photographer based in New York City and Sag Harbor, Long Island.

Look Ahead
Show enthusiasm for new or future projects, insights, learning, or programs instead of focusing solely on your 25 years of experience. Strategically position your LinkedIn profile for your next great opportunity! Don’t overlook your biggest asset — the network you have built over your career. Find and connect with previous colleagues and clients with a personal invitation to connect. Finally, offer helpful and friendly advice or insights with every LinkedIn message, post, or comment.

Sandra Long is a LinkedIn expert, consultant, author, and speaker. She’s written a best-selling book: LinkedIn for Personal Branding; The Ultimate Guide and given aTEDx talk:  LinkedIn Community: A Super Power Hiding in Plain Sight.

Rock What You’ve Got
Own your age and be proud of it; if you think age is an issue, you will absolutely project that. Make a list of all of the great ways you can contribute to an organization – and focus on that. Thirty-somethings are not going to bring the years of wisdom that companies need today. Tips I share with clients: Stay up to date on technology and update your email. Talent acquisition will think you are a dinosaur if you are using an ancient domain name. Keep up to date on tech news, whether that’s around new LinkedIn features, the most recent iPhone release, how AI is impacting the workplace, even knowing what’s trending on Twitter or Instagram. While in search mode, take a class about a topic that intimidates you. Learn how to rock LinkedIn or the latest features of commonly used office programs. Did someone say, “Pivot Tables?”

Heather Dolan is a Senior Vice President with Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement and executive coaching firm.

Embrace Experience
Walk into an interview knowing that your success and proven track record offers companies knowledge and leadership. The work experience from 25+ years is incredibly valuable. Begin your resume with your results, so the hiring company will be able to quickly identify why they need to hire you. When targeting salary, be sure to ask for what you have been making. If it’s a $100,000 a year, and the position pays $50,000, hiring managers will know that you are just looking for a filler job until you find what you really want.

Holly Caplan is a confidence coach, author and speaker based in Dallas, Texas.


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