Will you encounter age discrimination in your next job search if you’re over 40 (or some other random number)? Very possibly. Should you let that factor define your odds of job search success? Not if you can do something about it!
Remember the classic year-end/new-year image–a doddering old man followed closely by a crawling baby? Some people might see that as a discouraging job search metaphor, but you don’t need to give in to that daunting outlook.
Age might be a physical fact you can’t get around–if you’re 50+, you just are. Myopic employers who view older employees as undesirable for various reasons pose some undeniable challenges. Unfortunately, this can lead to rejection of your candidacy when you pursue a job opportunity, even though you’re well qualified.
Certainly, how you choose to handle rejection can positively affect your job search and long-term career success. It just might not solve all the problems you’ll encounter that stem from ageism. Sometimes, you might need to “take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again” (from a Frank Sinatra song)!
Realistically, age discrimination could throw a big speed bump in your job search path, and you should take appropriate steps to counteract its impact from the get-go. However, you might need to do more than that.
By the way, do you know about a BIG, age-related factor that could trip you up before, during, and after job interviews?
Your mind thinks “age” when it shouldn’t! If you focus strongly on the age bias you’re afraid you’ll run into, you communicate that concern to the interviewer.
“What if he/she takes one look at me and decides I’m over the hill?” When that idea dominates your attitude, you’re headed for disaster, not a job offer. If you think it doesn’t work that way, think again.
On the other hand, when you work hard to redirect your thought and energy toward the value you can actually bring to employers, the odds can tilt in your favor. This was clearly demonstrated in a recent blog post on age discrimination by Nick Corcodillos (Ask The Headhunter). It included the story of a 50+ man he worked with who was struggling with his job search. Here’s the advice Corcodillos shared:
“You should have one goal, I told him: to show the employer what you’re going to bring to the bottom line. Do that, and you control the interview. Do that, and — much of the time, not all — you transcend the age (or almost any other) issue. The point was not just to help Mike perform at his best. It was to help Mike change his behavior from worrying to showing he could do the work.”
Did it work? Big time! Mike got a great job, fast.
Of course, you can run into some employers who simply don’t “get” that you could bring a top-notch solution to the challenges their companies are facing. Why? Because they’re concentrating on an almost completely irrelevant fact: your physical age.
Your job? To demonstrate from the outset that you offer the best of both worlds to them: years of trusted experience and stellar results plus fresh ideas that can help spur growth and profitability. Convince them they can’t afford to ignore that value. Do it confidently but without conceit. (If you’re really good, you don’t need conceit to back it up.)
When you turn your mind into an ally instead of an enemy, your job interviews will nearly always take a turn for the better. Ultimately, your age doesn’t define who you are or what you can do for employers.