According to an iHire survey, 52.5% of baby boomers said they have felt discriminated against by an employer due to their age. Whether you’re a baby boomer who is re-entering the workforce, delaying retirement, or simply searching for a new and rewarding opportunity, you may have experienced ageism at some point in your recent career.
For baby boomer job seekers who must compete against younger, less-experienced applicants for the same positions, ageism is extremely frustrating. The good news is that qualified candidates can find employment – no matter their age – with the right job search strategies. Consider these six proven tips for overcoming ageism in your job search.
Finding the right job is all about positioning yourself as a desirable candidate. This begins by establishing a clear understanding of who you are, where you want to go in your career, and what you can offer an employer. Ask yourself this series of questions before you begin your job search:
Your resume is your marketing document that echoes your responses to the above questions. Your resume is also your first impression, and it’s critical for getting your foot in the door.
One of the best ways for overcoming ageism is to include only relevant experience on your resume. It’s usually best to go back 10 to 15 years in your work history. However, if you have impressive achievements from earlier in your career, consider using a hybrid resume format. This format gives you a “greatest hits” section that will enable you to highlight those details without dating yourself.
You may also consider dropping your educational dates. If you list your 1976 college graduation date on your resume, that allows employers to do a bit of quick math (and you may not get a call). Be sure to take the time to customize your resume for each job you apply for – small tweaks can make a big difference in getting through an applicant tracking system (ATS).
To show employers that you’re tech-savvy, include your LinkedIn and Twitter links on the resume (if you have them), and make sure they present a professional version of you. For your LinkedIn profile, your photo should be current and professional-looking (no selfies!). Look at others in your industry and you will quickly get a feel for what to do, and what not to do.
As with your resume, do not include every job you have ever had on LinkedIn – try to mimic the information on your resume. It’s also a good idea to get active in online forums and blogs relevant to your areas of expertise.
Many times, jobs are filled through networking rather than through job boards. Whether you use social media, in-person/virtual events and conferences, industry forums, informational interviews, or something in between, accelerate your job search by building a strong network.
Networking provides the benefit of getting in front of people so you can present your whole self – something a resume can’t do alone. Remember: You are looking for people who can lead you to the opportunities.
Also, don't underestimate the power of being referred for a new position. If you have someone vouching for you that already works at the company, your chances of getting the interview are much higher.
No matter if the interview is virtual or in person, look and dress the part. If it is virtual, dress from head to toe because it will make a difference in your attitude.
Know your interviewer by doing your research on LinkedIn. It’s not necessary to ask that person to connect, but reviewing their profile will help you find some common ground.
Overcome ageism early by projecting self-confidence and telling a compelling story. Being teachable, flexible, and open-minded can be a substantial asset, especially during an interview. If you are being interviewed by someone younger than you, that person may be wondering whether you’ll undermine their authority if they hire you. Therefore, you must emphasize that you’re flexible, and demonstrate that despite being older, you can work with team members and management who are younger.
Lastly, understand that you, too, have power during the interview process. You are interviewing the company as well, and determining if their diversity policies and company culture are a good fit for you is important.
Salary research and negotiation is one of the most common job search challenges for older candidates – especially those who are re-entering the workforce. Be realistic about what you expect to make, and have a clear understanding of what the market is offering before you start your search.
If you made six figures in the past but have been unemployed for a while, understand that you are probably not going to make the same money your former employer paid you. Even if you’ve kept your skills up to date, you may end up back in a mid-level position at a lower salary.
But you should also consider the benefits beyond salary. If the position is engaging and you are doing the work you want, then job satisfaction and benefits go a long way in easing the pain of lower salary.
With this advice in mind, get started finding your next job opportunity on iHire’s industry-focused talent communities.