Age bias represents a serious problem for job seekers over 40. One study showed that nearly a quarter (21%) of workers in that age bracket have faced discrimination. At the same time, more than a third (36%) thought they have been barred from a position due to their age.
Meanwhile, the issue gets worse as the birthdays mount. By 50, the number of workers noticing that their careers have been impacted by ageism reaches 58%.
Of course, it’s up to employers to strip their hiring processes of any hint of prejudice. But in the real world, you have to deal with an ingrained societal bias against older workers. What can you do?
Here are a few steps you can take to overcome age bias in your jobs search:
Continually Update Your Network
Hopefully, before you even start a formal job search, you’ve done some work to smooth the transition into your next opportunity. If you find yourself without a job, you want as many options as possible. In other words, you want a strong network to rely on when you need a new position. This will give you the inside track on potential career advancements, sidestepping much of the casual ageism that can impact a job search.
This takes active cultivation. Even if you have what feels like a stable position, put effort into expanding your network. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t get complacent. Realize that even a job you’ve held for decades can end suddenly.
- Engage younger colleagues. Build connections with coworkers from other generations. You’ll expand your horizons and make connections that can come in handy someday.
- Be a mentor. Generously share your experience with others. As an older worker, this provides a currency you can use to enrich your network.
Downplay Your Age on Your Resume
Yes, ageism is wrong. But your resume doesn’t provide the right forum to confront it. To make sure you don’t become the victim of prejudice, downplay your age early in the application process.
This doesn’t mean you should lie about your age. Rather, you should avoid drawing attention to the length of your career. Consider tips like:
- Don’t include dates for your education
- Focus on up-to-date skills
- Don’t detail ancient work history
Don’t Become a Stereotype
Ageism comes about because of specific stereotypes. Small-minded hiring managers assume older workers can’t operate the newest tech, that they are set in their ways, or that they will demand outsized salaries based on outdated experience.
Given these prejudices, you need to take extra care to avoid living up to stereotypes. Instead, you should:
- Keep Up with Industry Trends
- Stay Proficient in the Latest Technology
- Emphasize Your Recent Experience
- Stress Your Interest in New Opportunities
Remain Flexible About Your Career Path
Given the challenges older workers find in the workplace, it’s important to remain flexible about your options. A rigid approach will likely lead to frustration. Instead, stay open to potential opportunities wherever they come up.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you launch your job search:
You may have to take roles that feel like a step back. You’ve probably reached some heights in your career. After a certain point, however, you can’t expect an unbroken path upwards. Be ready for lateral moves or even a step back if necessary.
Keep learning new skills. Even if you’re out of work, you can continue to expand your set of capabilities. This will keep your resume fresh and broaden your potential job pool.
Consider part-time or freelance work. Embrace the gig economy. By leaning into situations other than full-time employment, you can get your foot in the door, build your resume and expand your network.
Ready for the next stage of your career? A top recruiter, like PrideStaff, can find the perfect role for you no matter where you are in your professional development.
Contact PrideStaff today to get started.