How Executives Overcome Ageism After 50

John Krautzel
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Age discrimination is an unfortunate reality of the work sphere that can hinder your job search, and it isn't limited to unskilled older workers just entering the workforce. Even with vast experience and an executive status under your belt, you may have a harder time landing a job after hitting the 50-year mark. Here are a few ways savvy older professionals can overcome age discrimination and increase their chances of scoring a job.

Accepting the Reality of Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is illegal, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still run rampant in the office and interview room. This might manifest itself as potential employers believing you're outdated, not flexible and resistant to change just because you're over age 50. Although this reality is disheartening, don't walk into the interview with a negative attitude. Instead, overcome age discrimination by showing yourself to be the ideal professional regardless of age.

For starters, avoid mentioning the topic of age directly, instead guiding the interviewer's attention toward your strengths. Talk about your background and experience as well as the results to show for it. Continuously engage with interviewer, and ask thoughtful questions.

Staying Up-to-Date on Technology and Trends

Older professionals are up against younger competitors with a knack for tech and Internet solutions. Fight age discrimination by proving that you are just as capable in this area. If you haven't already done so, create social media accounts on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and learn the basics of connecting with people and using each. You should also have a strong handle on the software and tools relevant to your industry, such as the latest versions of Microsoft Word and Excel.

Demonstrating Value

Another way to fight age discrimination is to use your age in your favor. Demonstrate the professional value that you've gained from your years of executive experience, such as knowing when to take risks, knowing how to collaborate and exhibiting good decision-making skills. At the same time, make known that you're flexible and open to making changes to your thinking and work style.

Building a Network

At any stage in life or along the career path, a major component of getting a job is still the people you know. Take time to connect with other industry professionals on and offline. At networking events, smile and be social, coming up with questions and compliments to get conversations flowing. Strengthen your online presence on career networks such as LinkedIn, and ensure your profiles are filled out and up-to-date.

A great way to boost your network is to be of service. Reach out to people you've met, letting them know what you can do for them. Place the same information in your LinkedIn bio. As you help more and more people out, many are happy to someday return the favor.

Age discrimination can dampen your hopes for scoring a fulfilling job, but fear not. These simple practices can help you fight ageism and climb to the top of the candidate list.

Photo courtesy of photostock at


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  • Keith Enste
    Keith Enste

    Thank you for your follow-up; I appreciate your feedback and sage suggestions. Unfortunately, I have registered with nearly every temp agency in my area; they all say: “You have wonderful credentials and excellent relevant experience…I’m certain that we can place you!” Then I never r hear from them again; if by chance they do call, the job is in Timbucktoo; or it is an assignment that is completely inappropriate. I recall one agency that placed me: they said to me, “This is a very professional office; wear your best suit and really “look the part!” Well, I followed my counselor’s advice wore the very best suit I owned, arrived twenty minutes early for the assignment, professionally greeted and introduced myself to the receptionist; traded some early morning banter was offered a cup of coffee, graciously I accepted; then met the supervisor of the department with whom I was scheduled to work; very affable, pleasant and genial.
    I thought this might be a good gig: and then it happened!! I was taken to a sub-basement storage area; where I spent the balance of the day culling old files and taking them to the shredder. The area was filthy, dusty and not well lighted. Mind you I was told beforehand to wear my best most professional suit; old- ratty jeans and an old tee-shirt would far more appropriate. To say the least, that experience really affected my opinion regarding agencies.

    From my perspective; and I think others should recognize this remember whom is “paying the freight” and “follow the money” this is where such firm’s priorities lie! You are nothing but some interchangeable commodity to these hucksters: there are plenty more “lemmings” behind you willing to “put up” with any and all such indecencies and inhumanities just to collect a paycheck. It is disingenuous and wholly inaccurate to suggest, insinuate or infer that such “hucksters” are truly interested in the individual seeking a paycheck! Remember Jerry McGuire and “Show me the money!” This is their only priory; the almighty buck.


    Well written, thoughtful, and inspiring. I've learned to say "I love to work and learn and share new ideas, instead of I am a widow and need to work". Take fear by the horns and show them what you've got. Talk numbers, ROI, trends, and margin. The bottom line is what it is all about! Blessings from Lynnette Morey in Mt Pleasant, WI.

  • RALPH R.
    RALPH R.

    Here in Brazil the age discrimination starts when you are over 40, I 'm 55 years old and without work since 2014. I am looking for a own business, but is not easy to decide.

  • Chris Knapp
    Chris Knapp

    Age discrimination IS all too real! I'm over 50 and if I can brag for a moment, I'm darn good at what I do (Quality Manager/Engineer, 25 years experience). yet I've been out of work for over 2 YEARS. Why? A scarcity of available jobs in this area for one, but also because of my age. I try to take care of myself and I've had people tell me I look young for my age (blushing) yet still no one wants me. Am I too experienced? Maybe; I try to downplay that. I am a disabled military veteran - makes no difference. I know three other professionals (all over 50) that are unemployed and we all agree that it's because of our age. So much experience going to waste!


    (2) ahh, hit enter improve my interview. They were very astute and forthright and I saw that I was doing the things they said. A very itemized list, columns and all..personality traits, presentation, core points...very professional and I would say, court defensible if someone was displeased with the assessment. They could take some lessons from these folks.


    Perhaps it is just the province of Taxtario where everything flows from the wrong hill to the worst hole. The attitude is horrible here; probably because the concept of workplace bullying runs rampant, in almost every industry I've worked. But there is some hope.....I lived in BC for about a year and several executive jobs I was turned down for were met with a FULL written explanation why, the points I had failed in the interview and suggestions on improvement. I was, to say the least, floored and appreciative at the same time, not bitter. I kept these (and will soon be part of my book on how to do things right in the employment world) and worked on the points

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Keith E. thanks for your comment. Sure do hear you; you along with many others who are experiencing the very same thing. There's not much that you can do if you are not asked in for an interview. That doesn't have to be ageism; it could be a myriad of things. Now if you do interview, try to have some rapport, if you can, with the interviewer so that you both will feel comfortable discussing why you were not selected for the position. Yes it's true that companies are terrified of discrimination lawsuits but still - there has to be a way to get a real answer as to why you were passed over. Make sure that you are following up the interview with a thank you card. Handwritten, snail-mailed ones are the best. Before you leave the interview, ask when the decision is to be made and when you can call. You can ask - if you do not select me, will you tell me why. Who knows - you might get a better response that way. I sure do wish I had the answers but every company is different as well as every interview. Personally, I think I would rather not hear back than to get the standards form letter, thanks for your interest but another candidate had more what we were looking for. More what?! So, what's the answer? In the meantime, have you tried going through a recruiter? One who specializes in your field? Have you considered contract work where you work for yourself? How about trying out some temp positions - to get a feel for the company and for them to get to know you? Just some food for thought.

  • Keith E.
    Keith E.

    I have to ask how does one implement your terrific suggestions when 1) you never receive a call-back to interview; and 2) if you do interview and they will not even discuss the reason or reasons as to why you were passed over for an offer of employment. In every post interview situation that I have recently experienced; I never was given any feedback or follow-up beyond: "We decided on another candidate whom better fulfilled our needs." While I know that most prospective employers are scared-to-death of legal action; and thus will not offer a rejected candidate much beyond that catch phrase; it is apparent to me that even with all the suggestions you make in this article that such discrimination is endemic, systemic, and virtually impossible to legally fight on an individual basis. Unless firms are making wholesale workforce reductions by only eliminating their "more senior" staff members sustaining a charge of ageism and thus age discrimination is almost impossible. At the age of 57, I don't think that I will ever be employed again.

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