As our population continues to age, the number of 50 and older workers becomes larger. This coupled with less people “retiring” from a position due to downsizing and off-shoring causes many older workers to be job searching.
In a perfect world, a job seeker over-50 would have no reason to worry. The reality is that to some degree, age bias does exist. Yes, I know it is illegal, but it does happen and usually it is subtle enough to not to be at the level of a potential lawsuit. The stereotypes are many for those over-50 such as: they will have less energy, be afraid of technology, or won’t follow the direction of a younger supervisor, and the list goes on. A key for the more “experienced” job seeker is to take age out of the conversation and off the table, that way the Hiring Manager can concentrate on whether you are the best for the position. Below are some quick tips to make the question of your age a non-issue.
• Be Careful With Your Dates – Limit the time you go back on your resume. A company does not need to know the entry-level position you held 25 years ago. In most instances, 15 years is the standard on a resume; anything further back is irrelevant and probably dates you. Leave off the date of any college or high school graduation, unless you went back for that degree at a more recent time.
• Determine if a Function Resume is Right for You – A functional resume focuses on your strengths and experiences as opposed to the chronology of your career. Sounds great for the older job seeker, the only problem is most Recruiters and Hiring Managers are not used to Functional Resumes and would prefer not to see them.
• Update Your Titles – Stay current with your job titles. For example, the term “Personnel” is rarely used and “Human Resources” is the norm. Using obsolete titles will date you severely and also give the appearance you have not updated yourself with current trends.
• Watch Your Language – Make sure you know the “buzzwords” of today. Go on the Internet and research thoroughly the company and the industry for any hot acronyms or words. Do not frequently refer to your “years of experience” either on your resume or in an interview.
• Be Brief – It is important to provide short and concise answers in your phone and in-person interview. It is the tendency for more experienced Job Seekers to want to give very detailed answers in order to fully convey their knowledge. The reality of younger interviewers is that they desire answers that are quick and to the point.
• Eliminate the Ego – Your interviewer and your potential new boss may be much younger than you. If you give any hint that this will be an issue, then you will most likely not receive the position. Show how, in the past, you have worked with many people both in work teams and in a reporting relationship. Profess how you are looking forward to developing a relationship with the prospective new boss.
• Be Ready to Learn – Describe how you have tackled big projects and learned new technology in the recent past. Communicate a “roll up your sleeves” attitude and the desire to be productive immediately in your new role. Describe how you have taken on new roles and assignments in the past. Eliminate any out-dated technology references from your resume.
• Show Passion – Overcome the stereotype of low energy by being enthusiastic whenever in contact with the prospective company. Communicate how interested you are in the organization and the position. Describe how you can make an immediate impact with the company. Emphasize your previous results, such as budget savings and revenue growth, and inform your prospective employer how you expect to have a similar impact with their company.
• Appearance – Reality is that first visual impressions are important. A key will be to look contemporary and professional. Wear clothes that are professional and also have a cut reflective of today’s styling. Review your hairstyle to make sure you are not “dating” yourself and consider covering any gray. For the ladies, watch your makeup and perfume as most under 40 wear light amounts of both, if any.
It can be a stressful time to be job searching when you are over 50 years of age. Most people envision themselves securely in place working at a position and preparing for retirement, not looking for a new job. It is also a time for someone to find a new position that will be a rewarding end to his or her working life. A savvy job seeker will utilize ways to place the emphasis on his or her skills and experience but not on age.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: