A common concern of job seekers who have more tenure in their career is that they are afraid they are being overlooked because of their age. Ageism, or stereotyping and discriminating against individuals based on age, unfortunately does happen in our society. In fact, I would contend that it may be in the top three most wide spread form of discrimination and the one least talked about until recent years.
In the recruitment process concerns over experienced workers do not just focus on age, but salary and mindset as well. Often experienced workers are thought to be too expensive and set in their ways and not possessing an open mindset that so many companies say they need.
Yet, experienced workers are finding the need to push back retirement due to the many years of a downturned economy.
So what can experienced workers do?
First understand that if an interviewer or hiring manager has the propensity to discriminate against you based on your age, they are going to do it. There may be nothing you can do about that and it is not your fault. It is illegal, but of course it happens.
I often get push back from experienced workers about putting pictures on their social profiles for fear that it will show their age and disqualify them in the minds of hiring managers. My answer is always the same. If they are going to discriminate against you because of your age, they are going to do it whenever they see you regardless of whether the first time is in a picture or in person. Why not get it out of the way early?
You can minimize the obviousness of your age on your resume if you wish by only going back 10-15 years of your career. Typically, this is the longest amount of experience that is considered relevant and job tasks before that are not considered in the overall skill set. If the job is highly technical in nature, you could even go back fewer years since that is a field that changes rapidly and most recent experience is all that is considered.
In the interview you may be able to curb hesitations about your age by projecting yourself as a forward thinker who is open to change. Showcasing that you do not have a “that is the way I’ve always done it” frame of mind may ease any tensions about experienced workers being set in their ways. Showing you are open to learn new things even with all of your experience can position you as a more viable candidate.
If the topic of salary comes up and you are flexible be sure to mention that. While experienced workers may have made significant income in the past, they do not always require that same amount now. If you would be open to less salary be sure to share that in a cover letter or in the interview.
Ageism is a situation that should never happen, but does. While there are things the job seeker may be able to do to minimize the potential negative impacts of their business, they may not be able to totally negate it. If you feel you have been discriminated against due to your age you may file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).