We hear this word a couple of dozen times per week from clients. I hear it cited as a reason for job seekers experiencing no results or poor results in their job search as an Expert Moderator for LinkedIn's Premium Career Group.
I hear the frustration and pain from experienced job seekers day in and day out:
"Employers want to hire a 20-something year old, with the experience of a 50-year old, at the price of an 18-year old."
"45 is the new 65. And no one calls me because of it."
"I can see the HR Manager's shoulders slump down when I walk in, knowing they realized I'm older than I sounded on the phone interview."
This pain is real.
Ageism (as sexism, racism, and other -isms) in the job search is real. And the age-related rejection, real or perceived, is debilitating otherwise competent job seekers across the globe.
What are you supposed to do if you believe ageism is a problem in your job search?
I mean, what are you really supposed to do? It's not like you can change how old you are, right? Are you supposed to give up and just throw in the employment towel?
I say accept it as fact.
If you were in battle, you would assess the power of your enemy and devise a plan around it, right?
You wouldn't walk around whining about your opponent having certain powers or advantages, right?
You would accept it, no matter how daunting, and see how you can over come it....yes?
So do the same thing here assuming ageism is your enemy - your opponent.
Assume you will experience age bias.
Don't assume ageism is the reason for EVERYTHING you are experiencing....this is not true nor wise.
But assume it will happen and accept it.
Face it and address it head on.
What is your plan knowing it will happen? Here are some ideas:
(1) Don't lead with your chin.
Over and over again I see job seekers complain about experiencing ageism in their job search and when I look at their resume/profile, it most often starts with "over 30 years experience..." If you want to be hired on merit, start with merit. If you don't want age to be a factor in a hiring decision, don't lead with age or seniority. It's that simple.
(2) Control what you can control. And ignore what you can't control.Can you control if someone isn't going to like you because you are visibly probably in your 50's?
Can you control how many times you send an email or make a phone call to advance your job search?
Can you control that some people, no matter what you do, will have a bias against people over 40?
Can you control how you learn how to communicate in today's electronic age to show that you will assimilate into the company's culture?
Yes. --> i.e. Don't ask to fax your resume in. That is the "I have over 20 years experience" equivalent since applicants last faxed their resume in for a job application 20 years ago.
(3) Don't assume you are the only one experiencing hardship.Everyone is being wrongly judged in some way... Here is what I've seen as a 20-year employment professional:
--Women think they are getting discriminated against because of gender.
--African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities think they are automatically disqualified from consideration because of race.
--Job seekers over 40 years old think age bias is holding them back.
--Job seekers under 30 think they get wrongly judged for not being qualified, when they are, because they are so young and the older candidates get hired over them all the time.
--Religious groups feel they are not hired because of their religious choices.
--Individuals from various sexual orientation demographic groups see their opportunities diminish because of their sexual orientation.
And last, but certainly not least....
--The 35-year old white male thinks he is getting screwed over because of diversity initiatives.
Here is the deal: Everyone is (or feels they are) experiencing bias.
So don't assume you are unique or being persecuted.
Accept it and plan accordingly.
There are things you can do to highlight your merits and draw away from your age.
In addition to the points above, here are 5 other points you can address to diminish the effect your age plays in your candidacy and focus more on your achievements:
Be strong and be well,
Lisa Rangel and the Chameleon Resume team have helped hundreds of people just like you get the 6-figure position they deserve.
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