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By Joe Donahue, President of Micro Tech Staffing Group
Age discrimination is the elephant in the room for older job seekers. Ranking among the top challenges for mature job candidates, ageism often makes its impact long before an applicant's resume is even viewed. So how can job seekers of a certain age overcome this bias? Here are five practical solutions to combating ageism and getting hired.
Think outside the box
The big-box stores of job search portals (Monster, CareerBuilder, and Indeed among others) take our cultural tendency for ageism and encode it in black and white - literally. Whether it's the use of year of college graduation as a mandatory field or by only offering start dates back to 1980, older job seekers can be whittled out of an available position's applicant results with a simple sort or the click of a mouse. A
is not a timeline or a biography, so focus on results delivered during the last 10-15 years of your career. Quantify impact whenever possible, and forget chronology. Group skill sets instead.
Just skip the big portals and network. Technology like LinkedIn and Facebook may make maintaining connections more convenient, but
built throughout a career are increasingly shown to be more lucrative for job searchers than portal applications. Go to events, request one-on-one meetings, and reconnect with friends and coworkers. Listen closely, follow-up and ask for referrals.
Enlisting an industry recruiter
or headhunter can also be rewarding for candidates with extensive employment history.
Find training and support services
Job-searching is a skill. From basic computer expertise to resume or cover letter writing or interviewing, baby boomers may find a 20-year layer of dust on top of their job search skills. So whether it's a local
catering to the 45-plus crowd(like Operation A.B.L.E of New England –Ability Based on Long Experience, a nonprofit in Boston whose mission is to help workers 45 and over get back to work), a Meetup group or training offered by unemployment services, take advantage of resources like classes, online tutorials, or one-on-one coaching in today's job search basics. Creating and sticking to a strategic plan of action helps to guide the job search process towards success.
Older workers, especially those with high levels of
, are expensive to employ. They expect higher wages and better benefits. They also have higher health insurance costs. Combined with pressures on productivity leading to longer hours for full-time employees, finding the right fit as a mature professional seeking meaningful challenges can be difficult and require an open mind. This is particularly true when looking for positions that offer a good amount of work-life balance. Increasingly, positions ideal for older job seekers include compromise. Whether contract work or a part-time position, such flexible arrangements often prove ideal for both businesses and for more experienced workers.
Know your value
Senior practitioners in an industry deliver maturity, experience and wisdom. They mentor others and offer time-tested solutions and advice. Businesses want employees who are problem solvers, ready to evolve and grow as times change. Employers want employees of any age to be fast learners. Be explicit in explaining past
and how challenges were met with flexibility. In addition, staying abreast of the latest news about interesting developments indicates a job candidate who is engaged and knowledgeable about market realities.
Utilizing these best practices can enable an older job seeker to be proactive against ageism and overcome the challenges often faced by their peers. Proactive choices can result in both a job search and a future job that fulfills both job seekers’ financial and intellectual well-being. Working with an established
is one of the best ways to make sure your experience works for you.
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