Your Age Should Just Be A Number | Articles & Tips | WNYJobs.com | Buffalo

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 Your Age Should Just Be A Number

By Joe Stein

One of the biggest concerns I hear from Job Seekers is related to their age, especially when the number is over fifty.  While (for legal purposes) age discrimination starts at 40 years-old, those Job Seekers over fifty, in particular, seem to feel the stress of the situation.

A quick review of some studies regarding performing an “over 50” job search seems to validate this concern.  The AARP Public Policy Institute has done research on the subject and all signs point to chronologically older workers having longer job searches than their counterparts. 

Of course, it is not all doom and gloom for those “over 50”.  There are simple steps that can be taken to either take your age out of the prospective employer’s mind, or (even better) make the subject irrelevant.  Before we go into some of the tips for you to consider, it is important to note that making hiring decisions based on age is wrong.  The best candidate should be the person selected, but the reality is other factors (including stereotypes regarding someone over 50) sometimes creep into the selection process.

Below are some tips to consider if you are “over 50” (and most of these are relevant regardless of your age).

• Network – Not only is this a great way to become aware of job opportunities, you may also pick up an informal endorsement in the process.  If you have advocates who support your candidacy, then your age is more likely to be omitted from any consideration.  The focus will be on how you have the support from certain individuals.

• Start Your Search Immediately – Earlier, I referenced the length of time that may be required for an “over 50” search…so why wait?  If you lost your last job, get started immediately.  If you are currently employed, but feel at risk, then start looking before you are unemployed.  Diving right into your job search will also take your mind off any stress you may be feeling over your situation, allowing you to relax during interviews, etc.

• Be Tech Savvy – There is a stereotype that those “over 50” won’t be able to keep up with modern technology.  Your working knowledge of Microsoft Office, E-Mail, Internet, Smartphones, etc. will assist you in making this false perception irrelevant.  Be sure to include (on your Resume) all the software you know, but make sure it is the packages currently being used. In other words, you can delete “Word Star” and “Quattro” from the document.

• Have a Social Media Presence – Chronogically younger Managers are on social media sites such as Linked In and Facebook. Create a profile with relevant information to show that you are comfortable using these types of sites.

• Stress Your Change Management Skills – You probably have heard of the old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  Well, if you can show how you were able to easily adapt during situations such as a job restructure, a system upgrade, or facility opening, you will show the ability to change.

• Adjust Your Resume – There are some basic “tricks” to make sure your resume does not date you too severely.  Do not go further than 15-20 years when writing your job history.  Furthermore, avoid writing your school graduation year that will serve to date you.

• Show You’re Not Overqualified – Your experience level may serve to intimidate a Hiring Manager that you will not be satisfied or coachable in the available open position.  Stress how you are willing to perform a variety of roles, and provide examples of “rolling up your sleeves” to get the job done.

• Current Pop Culture and Sports References – You don’t necessarily need to know about the latest hip hop or reality TV star, but it is important to be at least conversational with what is going on around you. 

• Update Your Look – This topic could probably be an entire article on its own.  I am hardly a fashion expert, but if your clothing, hairstyle, etc. were stylish in the ‘80s, then it is probably time for a trip to the clothing store and salon.

• Hint About How Long You Will Continue Working – It is not uncommon for there to be misperceptions (from younger leaders) regarding how much longer someone is going to work.  I have found that traditionally Hiring Managers will underestimate how much employment time people still have left.  A combination of falling 401k balances and increasing Social Security age requirements have people working later in life.  You can drop hints by asking about long-term plans of the company and along with inquiring about training and promotional opportunities.

The saying is that “60 is the new 50”, so I am assuming that 50 is now 40, etc.  Whatever your actual age, the point is that your age is just a number and not always indicative of how you think or feel.  By making some simple tweaks, like those noted above, you can place the focus exactly where it belongs…on your accomplishments, experience, and skills!

As always, best of luck in your job search