Age discrimination is a reality that disproportionately affects Baby Boomers and even members of Generation X, favoring their Millennial counterparts in the hiring process. Sometimes, ageism is difficult to notice because it can be inadvertent or subtle, such as a shift from “experienced” to “high-potential” in job descriptions. Ultimately, you may find it hard to compete against a “digital native” in high demand, but there are many strategies you can use to combat ageism and land a new job.
1. Revamp your resumé
Not only is it important to keep your resumé up to date in terms of content, but even formatting can be a subtle way of countering implicit bias. Focus on your more recent career, and only include older experience if it is directly related to the job you are seeking. A good strategy to determine what to include is to step in the shoes of your employer and consider what is relevant. Consider omitting some of the tell-tale signs of your age, such as education dates, in order to avoid drawing attention to it. More importantly, however, streamline your template. Opt for a more modern text (i.e. Arial, Calibri, Cambria) as opposed to Times New Roman, and make effective use of white space. Appropriately modernizing your resumé can help subside some of the qualms employers may have about your maturity.
2. Familiarize yourself with the new technology and media platforms
Because many employers are on the hunt for tech-savvy Millennials, taking the time to learn about new developments can help you overcome their competitive advantage. You can attend a workshop put on by companies such as Apple, or even your local community college. If you are able to, you can also acquire some hard skills or certifications, such as Microsoft Excel. Create a LinkedIn profile and keep it updated in order to connect with employers and network online. Take a webinar on how to become a LinkedIn power-user. Make sure you are aware of current trends and popular social media platforms (i.e. Twitter, Facebook) and have at least a basic understanding as to how they function.
3. Be proactive in the hiring process
Rather than leaving room for potential employers to make assumptions about your age and its associated implications, make sure to leave little room for doubt. Again, step into their shoes. Think about what you might wonder when hiring someone as seasoned as you are. Do you already have one foot out the door for retirement? Can you keep up with a fast-paced environment? Are you up to date with current software and other tools you may have to use? These are all questions hiring managers may wonder, but they probably won’t outwardly ask due to ageist undertones. Be proactive and answer these questions for them, so there is no room for assumptions. This is your opportunity to showcase your experience as an asset, not a liability.
4. Prepare for age-related questions
That being said, it can be hard to answer all of their questions without them directly asking you. Be prepared to answer age-related questions as they might come up. Be sure to highlight your willingness to adapt and learn, and bring up any “modern” skills you may have. You may be asked about your long-term vision for yourself in the company in order for them to gauge how long you plan to work there. Remember, they may have to decide to spend resources on training each new hire, and if you don’t plan on sticking around for too long, this can disincentivize them from investing in you as an employee.
5. Consider that you might learn from your younger co-workers and vice versa
There are skills that your Millenial counterparts may have that you don’t. Be willing to drop your pride and learn from them, even if they are less experienced than you. Similarly, be willing to teach them the skills that you know that they might not be familiar with. This is crucial to creating an amicable culture in the workplace and minimizing the perceived age-gap that can potentially foster ageism within a company.
Combating ageism is not always easy, and there is no cut and dry method to avoid it, but taking small steps to stay up to date can help you remain hirable and land a new job. Barbachano International can help provide you with the tools and tips you need to boost your job search and land your next job.
By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano
CEO & Founder of Barbachano International (BIP), the Human Capital Solutions leader in Mexico, Latin America, and the USA offering high impact executive search, executive coaching, and outplacement.
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