Fighting the effects of aging is another stress we add to our lives these days. With everything from wrinkle erasers to anti-aging vitamins and relief from joint pain, we can easily run to the drug store, purchase some of these pharmaceutical marvels and instantly feel 10 years younger. I have spoken with dozens of job seekers who are concerned that their age is a key factor in why they are not receiving job offers. I have provided a list of simple things you can do for yourself to help alleviate some of your age discrimination perceptions.
1. Banish your own discrimination thoughts.
Flip that mental age discrimination switch to the "off" position. Think age-neutral. Banish any thoughts that reflect "reverse age discrimination" where you believe a young person can't possibly understand you - get them to understand your enthusiasm, skills, interests and ability to contribute.
2. Emphasize capabilities.
Use your extensive experience as the focus of your sales pitch. After all, you have seen your industry evolve, have experience solving problems and have perfected the tricks of the trade. Chances are you won't have sick children or daycare issues. These are value added traits (selling points) you have to bring to the work place.
3. Buy a computer, cell phone, Blackberry phone or at least a pin drive.
Employers expect to be able to communicate with you by electronic mail (e-mail). Showing that you are technology "savvy' is a good thing. Not owning a computer can be a "showstopper." You can buy a serviceable desktop or laptop computer for $400 to $600. At the very least, you'll want to be able to say, "You can always reach me on my cell phone."
4. Acquire basic computer skills.
If you have recently inquired about whether a company is hiring, you have probably been told "you have to fill out an online application." With few exceptions, many jobs require a fundamental working knowledge of computer skills. Start with a basic introduction and work your way on to Microsoft Office applications. Learn how to independently perform Internet research without having to call your grandson in junior high school to do it for you! Check community colleges and libraries for classes. A fabulous website for free online computer training is Goodwill Community Foundation www.gcflearnfree.org. This website offers computer and technology training you need for life - absolutely free!
5. Avoid "age" references on your resume
Don't put graduation dates on your resume. Present only the most recent 10 to 15 years of employment history and summarize prior work in a single paragraph without dates or durations. There is no need to list when you went to high school or college unless you are a recent grad.
6. Craft your resume and applications on skills and abilities.
Carefully craft your resume or employment applications to focus on skills and capabilities, not length of service. Describe what you can do, what you have learned, and what you have accomplished
7. Practice interviewing.
It may have been some time since the last time you had an interview and you may be facing a hiring manager half your age. Practice answering and asking questions simply and directly. Be ready for awkward questions such as "How long do you plan to work?", "Do you believe you are overqualified for this job?" Don't get defensive. Give a direct and honest answer. Move the conversation ahead by discussing your qualifications and how you can be the "right fit" for the job. Project yourself as cheerful and flexible and back it up with your exceptional skills and abilities.
8.Fitness and appearance.
Stay fit for life, not just for an interview. Get plenty of rest and some exercise before interviews. Your joints may creak and pop but keep your aches and pains to yourself! You may have your "lucky interviewing outfit" but if it is outdated and smells like mothballs, go shopping for something contemporary and fresh. Be well groomed. In today's casual dress culture, looking sharp and professional is important.
Remember that age is only a state of mind, and by selling your extensive experience and your enthusiasm you are just as employable as any other generation!
As usual, please forward specific questions that you may have!
Workshops for Feb. 20-24
- Tuesday Feb. 21: 9 a.m., Finding the Hidden Job Market AND Marketing Yourself in a Highly Competitive Job Market
- Thursday Feb. 23: 2 p.m., Writing a "High Definition" resume