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Joe Szynkowski: 3 tips to overcome ageism in your job search
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Joe Szynkowski: 3 tips to overcome ageism in your job search

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Last week, we covered the topic of teenagers finding ample work opportunities due to the rise in demand for service-based jobs.

On other side of the experience scale, many workers are facing a growing issue with ageism in the job market.

About 35 percent of the U.S. population is now age 50 or older, according to AARP. Yet the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently found that “age discrimination remains a significant and costly problem for workers, their families and our economy.”

Here are some stats from AARP to back it up:

• Nearly one in four workers age 45 and older have been subjected to negative comments about their age from supervisors or coworkers.

• About three in five older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

• 76 percent of these older workers see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job.

• Between 1997 and 2018, approximately 423,000 U.S. workers filed age discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I’ve talked with many older job seekers throughout the years who feel they’ve been discriminated against due to their age. They have referenced awkward video interview experiences and hiring managers’ concerns about them not being able to fit in with a fast-paced, technology-driven corporate culture.

Some of my connections would perform well on phone screens and be invited for an in-person interview, only to never be contacted again. This left them feeling like their age factored into the company’s decision to hire someone else.

I’ve also talked with recruiters about the topic. Many company decision-makers can fall into the dangerous trap of discrimination without even realizing it.

The most widely used excuse I have heard is salary. Hiring managers may choose a younger professional with a lower compensation than a more experienced leader would require. The problem with this is not having an open dialogue about salary and only assuming what an older professional would demand without giving them a chance to explain.

3 Tips to Overcoming Ageism

Older job seekers shouldn’t have to work harder than others to market their skillsets, but unfortunately, this is a reality many people face.

How you market yourself as an experienced professional can make a big difference in giving you a fair shot at a job opening.

Here are three quick tips you can implement today to help improve your odds of landing a new role.

Keep Your Resume Current: On your resume or LinkedIn profile, only highlight the last 20 years of your career experience. If you want to include work from the 1990s or 1980s, do so with a summary section at the bottom of your career timeline. Include keywords or company names that will amplify your personal brand, but avoid listing years.

Utilize Your Network: A good network will not only provide a strong support system but will also keep you apprised of new job openings. Many roles are filled based on referrals and relationships, so stay connected to your past colleagues and customers to uncover new opportunities in the future.

Address the Elephant in the Room: Even before age-related questions come up in an interview, you can lighten the mood by addressing your age head-on. Show recruiters and potential employers that you are energized about your career. Bring up recent achievements that highlight your quick-thinking and problem-solving abilities. Use humor to disarm them and show that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

In the end, age really is just a number. Career success and happiness for older workers isn’t some faraway dream in a fantasy world.

It’s possible. You just need to sell your story – not your age.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out www.workhappiest.com for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email Joe@TheUpWriteGroup.com for more guidance on finding career joy.

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