Age discrimination has been illegal since Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (EDEA) in 1967. Unfortunately, passing a law against hiring discrimination does not mean it never happens. According to one survey conducted by the AARP, 2 out of 3 workers ages 45 and older report having seen or experienced age discrimination.
So what can job seekers do to fight ageism and protect themselves against this form of hiring discrimination? Here are five ways to combat age discrimination in your job search:
1. Reinforce the skills and experience you bring to the table.
In a tight job market, hiring mature workers makes good business sense. Older workers enhance diversity, have a strong work ethic, and demonstrate a lot of emotional resilience. But perhaps the biggest benefit of hiring more seasoned job candidates is the experience and skillsets they have to offer.
Emphasize what you’ve learned through watching your industry evolve, not simply the day-to-day skills you’ve picked up working in particular positions. Make sure to illustrate these talking points with detailed examples that are relevant to the position to which you’ve applied.
2. Be enthusiastic about your work.
As a job seeker, you can quickly set aside any concerns your potential employer might have about how long you intend to continue working by demonstrating a genuine enthusiasm for your work. While it is illegal for interviewers to directly ask your age during an interview, they could try a more indirect route to get the same information.
When responding to questions about how long you plan to stay in the industry, deflect the question by talking about how much you enjoy the job. For example, you could say, “I enjoy working and am actively seeking out opportunities to continue learning. I intend to stay in the workforce as long as I can.”
Also, be prepared to talk about how much you look forward to mentoring younger people in your field. Explain that what you have to teach those with less experience in the industry holds value beyond that of any trainings or certifications available.
3. Stay current when it comes to technology.
One of the biggest reasons older job candidates get passed over is because they are perceived as not being up-to-date on the latest technology. So be ready to show that you are aware of the latest technology innovations in your industry.
This doesn’t mean anyone expects you to be Snapchatting with colleagues. However, you will want to be proficient in the programs, apps, and platforms most widely used in your field. If you aren’t a tech whiz, consider taking an online course or technology course at a local university. Check out Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera.org, or Harvard online learning for some free options.
4. Rework your resume to fight age discrimination.
Update the font: Did you know that certain fonts make your resume look outdated? It’s true. Are you looking for a position in marketing or graphic design, for example? Avoid using Times New Roman. While TNR is probably the most commonly used font for resumes, many see it as “too” classic and traditional for a modern resume. However, if you are in the legal industry or looking for a corporate position, classic fonts like Times New Roman are more acceptable.
The number one concern is that your resume is easily scannable on any device. This makes the safest choice a sans serif font (e.g., Calibri, Arial, or Verdana). Also, avoid Comic Sans, which most perceive as juvenile. This is surely no way to fight ageism in your job search.
Summary section: yay or nay? Should you include an “objective” or “summary” section on your resume? There are two schools of thought here:
- Some think it’s old-fashioned and recommend against it.
- Others think it’s a great way for experienced and seasoned workers to stand out and provide a succinct narrative about their work history and experience.
You can use this section to highlight past achievements and current skills, including technical skills. Adding a summary can be an opportunity to take the worry about age off the table as soon as you get the chance if done appropriately.
Remove graduation dates: There’s no real reason to include your graduation dates on your resume, so feel free to remove them. This is especially a good idea if you graduated more than 25 or 30 years ago. You earned your degrees and there’s no reason your graduation date should prevent you from getting a call back.
Your resume is a marketing tool, not an autobiography: While we’re talking about making cuts, you can also remove low-level or entry-level positions held at the very beginning of your career. Although you can’t remove dates of employment for positions you keep, you can be selective about what positions you include. For instance, you could choose to keep only the past 10-15 years of your employment history.
5. Get support.
Perhaps one of the biggest impacts of age discrimination is what it can do to your confidence level. As often as you may hear, “that position just wasn’t the right fit for you,” that doesn’t make the realities of rejection or ageism any easier. Still, accepting this idea may be the best alternative available to you as you continue your job search. Confidence is crucial to landing the job you want, so don’t be afraid to get the support you need to build your confidence.
Our recruiters are experts at working with experienced job seekers. We can help you see your experience as an advantage—not a liability. Our proven methods and resume services have helped 92% of job seekers receive job offers within the first four months of starting their job searches. Are you ready to get the support you need? Contact us to get started.
There’s no reason your career should slow down when you’re showing no signs of taking your foot off of the gas!