“A recent study released by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College indicated that many companies have reservations about hiring older workers based on preconceived notions — namely, reduced energy, higher salary expectations and unwillingness to learn new technology.”
There was a time when age discrimination conjured visual images of men and women nearing the retirement age of 62 and older. However, with the increasing impact of technology, the changing workplace, globalization and economic instability, age discrimination has crept into the lives of working professionals as young as 40.
So if you are over 40 and have been unexpectedly thrust into unemployment, how can you find career success? Overcoming the barriers of age discrimination takes persistence, dedication, a positive attitude and employing a few proven strategies for your job search.
Strategy #1: Unearth Your Personal Brand
If you have not conducted a job search in over ten or fifteen years, you will find yourself entangled in an intense competition for today’s top positions. Add your age factor to the equation and you will need to find ways to differentiate yourself from other jobseekers and show employers why you are worth more.
One of the best places to get started is with personal branding. Through deep self-evaluation and external feedback, you will identify your unique strengths, personal attributes and the authentic value you offer to potential employers. Here are five questions to get you thinking about your value proposition:
What aspects of your work and life do you enjoy the most?
What is your area of expertise and/or specialty skill?
What do you have in your background, education or experience that differentiates you from your peers?
How do you want to be perceived?
Ask peers, colleagues and managers how they perceive you and what strengths they see in you.
Strategy #2: Develop an “Age Friendly” Resume
Your resume plays a vital role in your job search and is one of the primary tools that potential employers will use to evaluate your qualifications. While you need to emphasize the breadth of your experience, you want to avoid including information that “ages” you. Here are a few techniques that will help you “de-age” your executive resume.
•Encapsulate your early experience or positions in a summary paragraph without dates
•Remove the dates from the Education section
•Restrict the number of years experience in your profile summary to “15-plus” or “15+”.
•Bring older achievements to the first page of your resume under a section called “Career Milestones” or “Career Achievements”
•Include volunteer, community outreach and extracurricular activities to subtly diminish concerns about your vitality and energy level.
•Highlight computer and technical training to demonstrate that you are current with the latest technology.
Strategy #3: Practice Well for Interviews
No matter your age, practice, practice, practice! To prepare, you might want to do the following.
•Conduct extensive research on the company through the Internet and if possible, “Google” the names of the person(s) who will be interviewing you. Learn as much about current industry trends and other events that impact the company.
•Prepare for the big day through mock interviews and practice questions. Develop success stories around your career accomplishments and refer to them during your interview.
Strategy #4: Upgrade Your Look
Your professional attire and physical appearance will make an impression with your interviewer as much as your resume. Do everything on your part to put your best foot forward. Seek advice from family; friends;c and an image consultant (if necessary) to ensure that your business suit, hairstyle and accessories really compliment you.
Strategy #5: Enroll in Support Networks
Besides traditional networking events, there are several organizations that provide emotional assistance and support for professionals over 40 who are seeking new employment.