Despite laws to protect against ageism, sixty percent of workers over the age of 45 have “seen or experienced” age bias.  Another ninety percent indicated it was normal for age bias to occur in the workplace.  It happens in a variety of ways, from being overlooked for a promotion to age-related jokes. 

Where individuals 45+ struggle most is with looking for a new job, despite The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) that was intended to protect them from discrimination. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently concluded that the law protects current employees, but not applicants.

How then can more experienced candidates compete with the younger market for jobs?  Be encouraged to know that you have skills of value and you can still compete in the job market.  Here are four ways, courtesy of SHRM.

#1 Consider the best role for you

Consider several positions you would enjoy most and select the one you would like to pursue.   This will provide focus in your job search effort.  Based on your relevant experience and the job requirements, enhance your resume, so it is keyword rich and discoverable by recruiters. Your resume should not only provide details of what you’ve done in the past but also focus on what you can bring to jobs going forward.   

#2 Maintain a positive outlook

A negative mindset can affect your attitude and impact your performance during an interview.  If you glumly think that you’ll be judged on your age, and there isn’t a chance you’ll get the job, nip those thoughts in the bud!  Practice replacing them with more positive ones. The next step should help you do this. 

#3 Frame your experience as an advantage

As you talk about your experience during the interview, highlight implicit skills learned throughout the years.  For instance, you’re more likely to be better managing a crisis than a less experienced individual.     Provide specific examples of problems you encountered and how you solved them.  Your maturity and knowledge can give you the edge.  Just be careful NOT to brag; this can cause the interviewer (most likely younger!) to feel intimidated. 

#4 Address age head on

Use the questions portion of the interview as an opportunity to be proactive in addressing common objections based on age.   I’m okay if my manager is younger than me.  I don’t want your job or anyone else’s – just this one.  Younger workers tend to change jobs more frequently; if I’m hired, I’m not looking to move on. 

Once you’ve perfected these tips, you’ll be well versed in demonstrating your value to potential employers. 

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