Age Proofing Your Job Search

By Matt Lowney

The AARP estimates that within the next three years one in three workers will be at least 50 years old.  Many employers are working hard to tap into this segment of the employment pool by implementing programs aimed specifically at recruiting older, more experienced workers.  These companies understand that attracting older workers is going to be a vital part of their success going forward.  However, as many older job seekers can attest, age bias does exist in the interview process.  How older workers handle this bias can dictate how successful they will be in their job search.  Don’t let this age bias hold you back.  Below are some helpful ideas on how to age proof your job search.

Resume.  Older workers should hide their age on a resume as much as possible.  For example, any employment history that dates back more than 15 or 20 years ago should be dropped from a resume.  The skills you learned then are likely not relevant in today’s job market.  Additionally, don’t include the date you graduated from high school or college.  If your resume states that you graduated in 1965, employers can easily deduce how old you are.  To be clear, I am not condoning that you lie on your resume or not take full credit for all of your experiences.  Keep in mind; your resume is a marketing tool.  The purpose of your resume is to present the best “you” possible.  If you are an older worker that is not getting callbacks from your resume, then you should strongly consider these resume tactics.  

Interview Style.  Older workers often find that interviewers are the same age as their children.  Both the candidate and interviewer can feel this generation gap, so the candidate needs to make every effort to ensure the interviewer does not feel like she is interviewing her mother.  For example, older workers may unconsciously talk down to younger interviewers because of the perceived lack of experience.  Do not make this mistake.  Employers definitely do not want to hire candidates that are set in their ways.  When giving responses during an interview, older applicants (this rule really holds true to all applicants) need give short, concise answers.  Typically older candidates give long, overly detailed answers during the course of an interview to show the breadth of their experience.  Lastly, make sure you show some energy in the interview.  Employers wrongly assume that older workers don’t want to work hard.  By showing you have some energy and excitement during the interview you can dispel this assumption.

Appearance.  First impressions go a long way during an interview.  Within 15 seconds many hiring managers have decided whether they are going to move you forward in the interview process.  If you’ve landed an in person interview then you’ve already done a good job in age proofing your resume and phone screen, but your appearance in person needs to reflect the image the hiring manager has created in his mind.  Rarely will they envision an older person standing in front of them.  Unfortunately, older workers often struggle with their personal image.  If you can cover up your gray a little bit and make sure you’re wearing clothes that reflect recent conservative trends in fashion you’ve done a lot to take a few years off your image.

Matt Lowney is a corporate recruiter, radio host, and career consultant specializing in the areas of healthcare and information technology.  He can be reached at [email protected] for additional information about his services.