Is ageism a real issue for jobseekers?

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Age shouldn’t ever be a barrier to getting a job as long as you have the right attitude and show your interviewers that your experience is a bonus



20 June 2011

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Barry Whelan articleI recently read an article that botox clinics were inundated with men having some work done before an interview, because they were worried about their age. Although discriminating against a person because of their age is against employment law and we live in a Europe of aging populations, many mature candidates ask me if their age will be a barrier to employment.

If you are worried that age might be a barrier when applying for jobs then you need to look at your wealth of experience in a more positive light.

It is important for older job seekers to embrace rather than fear from what they have to offer future employers. A lifetime of career experience, household and family obligations can be assembled into an application and interview that a less experienced job seeker simply cannot offer.

Here are some tips on doing just that:

Concentrate on the job on offer

The first thing you must do is concentrate on the job on offer. Age should never enter the equation. Spend your time demonstrating your suitability for a position. Do not be defensive about age or even focus on it at all. Focus on who you are, the experience you would bring to the position and your fit for the company. Look at key action words in the job description, words repeated in the description such as manager, prioritize or delegate and match your application to these. Focus on past experience including non-industry experience or volunteer work. Offer a Curriculum Vitae that complements the job description using the exact same action words applied to your experience.

Track record

You need to be confident about your past. A mature worker can demonstrate a track record of accomplishments throughout their career, whereas a college or university graduate can only demonstrate potential. Age should be regarded as a strength.
A long career history can highlight a number of strengths that employers look for, these include:

• Loyalty to a company or industry
• In-depth industry experience
• Experience dealing with a recessionary market
• Adaptability
• Strong work ethic
• Leadership and team working ability
• Learning agility

To generate ideas, look at past performance reviews. Not only will this help provide concrete examples, but select words of praise can be incorporated into your application or interview to add credibility.

Have confidence

Lastly, have confidence in your future. The phase ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ needs to be furthest from your mind. If new technology unsettles you or you feel your qualifications are a little rusty, then up-skill, take a course, go back to college, show your ability to keep up with the times and on top of new technology. If one of the fears about hiring older workers is that they are too set in their ways and unwilling to learn new things, this action shows employers your enthusiasm for continual growth.

Another strength for a mature candidate is the fact that the stage of life you are entering is one with fewer family distractions. This will allow you to be the most reliable and dedicated employee possible. Younger workers may have less understanding of what they want to do exactly in their career, whereas an older worker has a better understanding of their interests and how they fit best into the market.

If you find you are being rejected from a job because you are ‘over qualified’, don’t assume this is a by word for ‘too old’. Hiring managers need to match candidates who are appropriate for the job level and this may mean if you are applying for jobs below your experience, you may be rejected. If this is the case, set your sights higher and apply for more senior positions. Never assume you’re increasing your chances of landing a job by applying for jobs that are beneath your experience level. Only apply for jobs that are appropriate for your skill sets and experiences. 



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