skip to navigation

My Career Crossroads

my career crossroads logo

CONFRONTING THE POTENTIAL ‘AGE ISSUE’ IN JOB SEARCH

‘I’m in my 50’s now – who will want to employ someone of my age?’

Does this sound like a comment you (or someone you know) might make?

As those people within the Baby Boomer Generation (people now in their 50’s and 60’s) enter the job market, there is a mind set amongst many that age really DOES count when applying for jobs.

In reality, in many countries, an applicant can’t be discriminated upon because of age. However there are a few businesses that regard people from 45+ as being ‘higher maintenance’. That is they are likely to want higher salaries, provision for benefits and pensions and may end up needing to take more ‘sick leave’ than a younger person. These businesses fail to recognize the benefits that come with hiring a worker of more mature years and if age discrimination does take place, it is likely to be seen in industries that require a degree of physical fitness, agility and quick thinking.

For the most part, businesses no longer consider age to be a major issue when employing someone new. In fact many companies prefer to recruit a person from an older age range as often these people are recognized for having a greater work ethic and are less likely to leave in order to travel or pursue greater career aspirations. These businesses will know that research has found no link between age and on the job performance.

The older worker also brings to a company a wealth of skill, knowledge and experience that a younger employee simply does not have.

So why do older people often seem to miss out in winning the job?

Often it comes down to the attitude and mind set of the person applying for the job. When going for an interview, if the applicant really does think that their age will be a deterrent, then the harsh reality is, that it just may be.

Without even being aware of it, if age is an issue for the job seeker, then that person is more likely to convey an attitude that they will be lucky to get the job, rather than focusing on the benefits that they bring to the company, by virtue of the skill and experience they have for the role.

In an interview, regardless of age, presentation is critical. If as a 45 year old plus, you present at the interview looking tired, lethargic, and un-well, then regardless of your age, you are unlikely to be offered the job.

Employers look not just for the relevant skill level, but also for a positive attitude to both work and personal life. Demonstrating that you are up to date with relevant technology, that you are committed to your professional development by attending relevant training courses and that you are open to learning and development will stand you in good stead.

TIPS FOR GETTING BEYOND THE AGE ISSUE

  • Don’t make references to any early dates that could indicate you age
  • Use a functional rather than chronological Resume / CV format
  • In the interview, support every statement with examples that validate your skills and experience
  • Demonstrate the ways in which your maturity adds value – discuss the range of experience and successful career history you bring to the role
  • Discuss your willingness to be flexible and negotiable when it comes to salary, terms and condition
  • Show your interest in the company, not just the job
  • Qualify your dedication, work ethic and work related stability
  • Reinforce your qualifications and experience relative to the role
  • Speak with enthusiasm and energy for the role and the company
  • Describe the ways that you get along with others
  • Do NOT imply that you are likely to know more than the manager you are likely to report to
  • If you have a problem with age and job search, deal with it before going to an interview. No matter how hard you try to disguise it, your attitude or concerns will come through in the course of the interview
  • If you are unsuccessful, find out the reasons rather than assuming the decision was based on age
  • If you think that you may have been eliminated on the basis of age, put it behind you. It would probably not have been an organization that you were going to be suited to.