- “You have great experience, but we’re looking for someone more junior…”
- “You seem overqualified for this position…”
- “Your salary is too high…”
- “This job isn’t the right fit for you…”
- “We’re looking for someone with only 5-7 years of experience…”
Rather than feel helpless or complain about the ageism that surely exists in today’s employment market, I recommend you consider the following suggestions.
Take a Good, Long Look in the Mirror
I was sitting next to a complete stranger in a job search networking group. He was middle-aged, dressed nicely for a Saturday morning, and sported a bushy silvery-black beard. With an over-the-top brashness, I blurted out, “Have you considered shaving-off your beard?” Squinting, the man pursed his lips and responded, “I’ve thought about it, but I have worn it for many years and my wife likes it.” I explained that I felt his beard made him look much older and not as approachable. The beard masked his smile.
When I saw this same man about a month later, he was clean-shaven and looked great. He had not only shaved his beard, but also shaved 5-10 years from his resume. He told me he had received numerous compliments about his new look. The man’s story has a happy ending. He secured a great job a few months later and remains clean-shaven to this day.
Shaving is only one component related to your physical image. Here are other questions to ask yourself, or better yet, to ask of a close friend or confidante whom you know to be brutally honest. You’ll need this sort of candid feedback for this exercise!
- Is my hair style current?
- Are my eyeglasses stylish and attractive?
- Should I consider switching to contact lenses?
- Are my suits in style?
- Are my shoes polished or are they worn, discolored and nicked-up?
- How about my make-up?
- Should I lose a few pounds?
Now that you have spruced-up your physical image, make sure you look good when you’re participating in networking meetings, job search support groups and professional organization meetings. When you’re in job search mode, you should always look the part of an employee. Dress in “business casual” – yes, even on Saturdays and Sundays – because you never know when you might meet a hiring manager, recruiter or referral who can help you. It’s important that you look the part of a business professional, and not look like a “weekend handyman.”
Sticking with the same theme, now is the perfect time to start or enhance your exercise routine, to eat well and to get plenty of rest. Job search can be a marathon, and you need to train like a marathoner. You may also want to consider hiring a Career Coach to help you, too. As Eric Schmidt, President of Google, says, “Everyone can benefit from a coach.”
Embrace Social Media and Technology
Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress and Linked-In are synonymous with Generation Y, which is also referred to as the Millenial generation. These are people born in the mid-1970s and after. Being social-media-savvy will enable you to relate to and communicate with Generation Y stakeholders in the job search process – such as interviewers, recruiters and hiring managers. Your social media know-how will position you as “technologically sound,” and up-to-date with the times.
Therefore, it is critical for mature job seekers to embrace what is becoming the norm: social media and technology competence. Not only must you “talk the language” of younger generations, but you must stand-out from your competition. Social media for job search provides a great opportunity to do both.
If you stay “in the dark” by resisting change and new technologies, the Millenials (who are interviewing you, recruiting you and referring you) might typecast you as “behind the times” and “set in your ways.”
Botox for Your Resume
Your resume can help you look younger (when it’s written properly), just as Botox injections are commonly used to reduce wrinkles. Yet, I review many, many resumes that put a spotlight on the advancing age of the job seeker.
Here are several ideas to rejuvenate your resume:
- Remove graduation dates from your education. The year you graduated is no longer relevant, and it allows the resume reviewer to calculate your age by adding 20+ years to that date.
- The same concept applies to the initial position(s) you held in your career. Why list that first job on your resume? After 20+ years of experience, such information is probably no longer relevant. Also, junior-level jobs from early in your career tend to devalue the brand that you have likely created over the years.
- An “objective” heading is out; a “summary” heading is in.
- Leave-out old-fashioned phrases, such as “References available upon request.”
- It’s not necessary for experienced job seekers to limit their resumes to just one-page. Multiple pages are fine, to express your range of experience.
It’s All in the Packaging
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s all in the packaging.” Distinctive and innovative packaging sells products. In this case, YOU are the product. So, give yourself an image makeover, a social media/technology makeover, and a resume makeover to combat job search ageism. You have a lot more influence over the issue of age discrimination – and your job search results – than you might have thought!