Age Discrimination Sucks: 8 Do’s and Don’ts To Make Your Age an Asset in Interviews

Age Discrimination sucks and it’s illegal. But, for many senior professionals, age discrimination is an unfortunate reality. Employers claim they are worried about an older candidate’s health or financial expectations, but we know it’s not the only reason. So, how do you turn your years of experience into an advantage? How do you overcome age prejudice?

Avoid giving away information on your resume. When I was a recruiter, I saw many older applicants basically putting their age on the top of their resume. Experience from the mid-nineties, putting their graduation year, showing a drop in career around  2008.

Don’t... give away your age by including “tells” on your resume. What year you graduated or that you were an SVP of Finance in 2008, and then you worked at crate and Barrel for two years all say to a recruiter that you are old, and will want to return o your previous level of compensation.

Do… obfuscate your history. Remove all reference to education dates. That goes for volunteer work or boards you served on. Take off any employment beyond 7 years. 10 Years is acceptable, but if it’s absolutely necessary. Do not include any drops in your employment. If you were laid off and took lesser employment, consider putting a spin this. Employers will often avoid someone with this type of work history. I know it’s unfair, but let’s face reality on reality’s terms.

Be prepared for inappropriate questions. When they go low, you go high. Nothing exudes confidence and professionalism better than being prepared for awkward and illegal interview questions and knowing how to answer them.

Don’t…be defensive. Recruiters and hiring managers look at defensive behavior as evidence that you will be a problem employee.

Do…turn the situation around. For example, if the interviewer is focusing on your age, highlight how your expertise in the field. Outline how your years of experience have prepared you for problems the company might resolve at a higher level of responsibility.

Showcase your unique talents and skills. Your interviewers don’t know you. Skills you may take for granted as easy might impress an interviewer.

Don’t…assume that everyone knows what you know. You will be selling yourself short if you fail to point out your accomplishments, skills, and experience. Inform the interviewer how these skills bring a unique perspective to any position you are selected for.

Do…share stories of your successes in context of the role you’re bing interviewed for. Often, a company is interviewing you because they see something in your past that they like. If you’re an expert in an area that they are lacking, you should highlights where you can help them create a solution.

Show enthusiasm and energy. Companies want to hire excited candidates, ones that are not only knowledgeable but passionate about their contribution to an organization. Low energy or apathy in an older candidate will only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes.

Don’t…walk into an interview with a cloud hanging over your head or a bad attitude. Even if you’ve had a particularly hard time getting interviews, have been rejected, or are feeling undervalued, NEVER let that show.

Do…lean in a little closer in your chair to show more interest in the interviewer. Keep your voice upbeat and talk about how this type of work motivates you. Explain how your definition of success is about your passion and goes beyond a paycheck. For you, job satisfaction comes from your appetite for excellence.

 

I hope these tips have been helpful. Age discrimination is appalling but can be so hard to prove. Meaning sometimes the only option is to work around it in your search for a new job.

At Von Dier Career Cartography, we have worked successfully with a number of clients to rewrite their resume in a younger voice and prepare them for interviews. Our guiding client through this problem area has lead to many success stories. If you think we could help you get the job you have been wanting, give us a call, or email is at info@vondier.dev

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