Job Search Tips That Work for Older Workers

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In the time of #metoo, gender discrimination in the workplace has become top of mind for employers and job seekers. Many organizations have employment equity policies that address discrimination based on gender, race, and ethnicity. However, age discrimination is one type of bias that tends to get much less attention but is affecting millions of able workers throughout the United States.

The Grey Ceiling

As a job seeker, you need to be aware of age discrimination and how it can impact your job search. There are of course laws against age discrimination. Companies like IBM and Intel are being held accountable for discriminatory practices. However, the ‘grey ceiling’ is a very real problem and getting hired as an older worker can be challenging. In technology companies where the average age is close to 30, you certainly don’t need grey hair to be considered too old by some hiring managers.

Resume Tips

There are some simple things you can do during the application process to help you don’t become a victim of age discrimination. On your resume, you should limit your experience summary to the past 10 or 15 years. You can still include any positions previous to that, but consider placing it in an “Additional Experience” category without including dates.

Another way to avoid disclosing your age is to use a functional resume. Functional resumes focus on your abilities and experience without following a traditional chronological format.  You can also bring more attention to your skills versus your employment dates by including a profile section. A profile section at the beginning of your resume is a good place to put your skills front and center.

If you think your future employer may assume your compensation expectations are too high based on your age, address it in your cover letter. You can let your potential employers know that your compensation expectations are negotiable based on the full package being offered. You may even want to do some research and state that the average annual salary for the role is within your expectations.  

Interview Tips

If you’re an older candidate, be sure to bring enthusiasm to your interview. Use your years of experience to your advantage. Use storytelling techniques to illustrate your past experience and successes.

Make sure your image matches your expertise. As an older candidate, you have the chance to set yourself apart from the competition through your professionalism and polish. Updating your look and wardrobe is important, too. The focus should not be on looking young, but on looking current. A slightly younger friend can be a helpful resource to assist you with your look.

You should also consider getting an updated professional photo. You want to ensure that your online presence matches what future employers see in-person.

A few simple changes can make your job search process easier and reduce the likelihood of age discrimination. Whatever changes you decide to make, though, remember that the key is to lessen the perceived age gap between you and your younger competitors, while still being an authentic version of yourself.