Ageism can take many forms, such as not hiring or promoting older employees, assuming they are less competent or less technologically savvy or paying them less than younger colleagues. It’s something that affects both younger and older generations in the professional world. Let’s look at the impact of ageism and how you can avoid some of the stigmas during your job search.
- Individuals who are 13-34 years old are 13% more likely to experience ageism in the workplace compared to those who are 55+
- 62% of workers 50 years and older believe older workers face age discrimination and an AARP survey found that 78% of those workers have seen or experienced it
- 72% of women within the 45 to 74 age range believe ageism is a problem at work
- Age discrimination complaints from Black and Asian workers doubled between 1990 to 2017
- 23% of individuals ages 16- 54 are considered long-term unemployed compared to 36% of individuals above 55
Avoiding Ageism in Your Job Search
Remove graduation dates on your resume
For both younger and older applicants, removing graduation dates means recruiters will focus more on your skills instead. It also increases your chances of an interview. However, be careful of removing your birthday as walking into an interview as someone older when they expect a younger individual does not give a first good impression. No one likes to feel they were deceived even unintentionally.
Provide most recent work experience
Recruiters do not need to know your entire work history. Resumes should have your last three work experiences that go back no more than twenty years. Plus, updating your titles to the current industry terminology can be a more subtle way of hiding your age. For example, consider changing chief to project lead and vendor to sales manager.
Avoid calling yourself “inexperienced” or “old”
During your interview, avoid referring to your age as much as possible. If you are young, try not to say inexperienced or lacking skills. Instead, focus more on what you have learned and what the position will teach you.
For those older, try avoiding phrases like, “I’m old fashioned,” “back in the day,” or “old brain.” Highlight what you do to stay current and use anecdotes as often as possible to example your leadership skills.
Apply to companies with zero-tolerance anti-discrimination and harassment policies
A sure way to find companies that value employee skill and not age, race, or gender is to apply to those who clearly state their policies. If you cannot find a company’s policy, it can be a great excuse to reach out to the hiring manager.
Unlike most mentoring, reverse mentoring is when someone younger mentors someone older. It can be about any subject such as computer programs, social media, managerial skills, etc. Age is just a number and often someone younger might have more experience in one area that you would like to learn from. It also shows recruiters your initiative to stay up-to-date in the industry.
If you are worried you do not have the experience for the position, then consider finding a free certification. Many well-known organizations, like Google, have free certifications for a wide range of jobs. It can be what sets you apart from other applicants and persuades them if they are on the fence due to your age.
Drop older tech
Sometimes using older technology can tell recruiters you may not be as tech-savvy as younger applicants despite your abilities. If you are using a Hotmail or Yahoo email, then consider shifting over to Gmail or Outlook. Also, consider converting your resume and cover letter to a PDF.
Ageism can have serious consequences, such as reducing job opportunities and income for older workers and contributing to social exclusion and a negative work environment. To truly combat ageism in the workplace, employers should recognize and challenge their own biases, promote diversity and inclusion, and implement more equitable hiring practices. For more tips to aid your job search check out the dos and dont’s of virtual interviewing.