Getting Around Ageism According to a Career Coach

Nancy Anderson
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It's not uncommon for individuals age 40 and over to face ageism at work. It's also common for older adults to face ageism during the job hunting process. Part of this issue comes from 20-something hiring managers, who often prefer hiring workers close to their own age since they relate to them better. Discover some tips to fight ageism during a job search.

1. Find the Perfect Culture

When searching for work, research the cultures of companies to find organizations with values that align with your own. Then, explain why you'd fit in well with those organizations on your cover letters and resumes to fight possible ageism at work. If you're a good fit for the company and highly qualified for the job, the hiring manager will care less about your age and more about what you can contribute to the organization.

2. Don't Directly Discuss on Your Age

Avoid making direct comments about your age during a job search, as this also helps fight potential ageism at work. Consider leaving your college graduation date off of your resume. During an interview, never say you're too old to do something. For example, instead of saying, "I haven't used this kind of system since 1999," leave the date off altogether, and say "I used something similar when I worked for IBM."

3. Leverage Professional Experience

Rather than list your previous jobs chronologically, list your experience by relevance. If you spent 10 years on a sales team for a large firm 20 years ago, list that experience first if you want a sales management job. It's also important to list your most recent positions. Your work, much like your attitude towards the company culture, should line up with the position. Potential ageism at work shouldn't deter you from listing positions that demonstrate your skills and ability to perform.

Younger managers may feel as if the company cannot afford your services due to your experience. Allay your hiring manager's fears when you answer the "tell me about yourself" question during an interview. Say you have other reasons to take this position that have nothing to do with money, such as wanting to be closer to family, deciding to take your career in a different direction or wanting a change of pace from your previous positions.

Other Tips

Other ways to get around potential ageism at work includes leveraging your network and gathering recommendations from individuals who work in the industry. You can also update your skills by earning certifications or taking formal classes to make yourself more marketable.

The best person for the job adds value to the position and proves he's an asset to the company. Ageism at work will always exist, but there are some steps you can take to help you get around anyone's unconscious biases against older workers.

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