How to Beat Ageism and Get Hired

Ageism — age discrimination — in the job search is a reality that’s hitting both ends of the spectrum. As a job seeker, it’s pretty easy to fall prey to it (especially when you don’t get the job you’re after) if you don’t have the right attitude.

: Elderly employee leaving behind his younger colleagues

For Millennials, you don’t want to appear young and inexperienced. A star Millennial WILL:

  • Dress to impress: According to a survey by recruiting firm Adecco, 75 percent of hiring managers believe the top interview mistake Millennials make is wearing inappropriate attire.
  • Bring hard copies of their resume: If you show up for an interview with your resume on your tablet, it’s not easy to show multiple people.
  • Ask the right questions: If you don’t ask smart questions, you’ll come off as uninterested or unprepared. Questions like “Why did you choose to work here?” or “How would I exceed your expectations in my first few months on the job?” show interest and drive.
  • Sell yourself, but don’t brag: Accomplishments are important to highlight, but be careful of sounding overconfident.

Sandwiched in the middle, Generation X can take advantage of all these tips. In addition, star Gen Xers WILL:

  • Let their personality shine: Smile and lean slightly forward to demonstrate you’re truly interested in the job.
  • Go above and beyond typical research: Arm yourself with the latest press releases about the company so you can ask intelligent questions.
  • Show passion: Don’t just go through the motions of talking about your achievements. Talk about how what you did made an even larger impact to customers and people’s lives.
  • Not assume everyone knows what they did: Prepare stories around your accomplishments so the interviewer can understand exactly how you got from point A to point B.

Just the opposite of Millennials, Boomers don’t want to appear old and stodgy. Star Baby Boomers WILL:

  • Be willing to learn: Show how you’ve recently picked up new skills by taking a class.
  • Show how this role will challenge you: Put your interviewer at ease by ensuring them you are not overqualified. Demonstrate how you can advance the team or company by sharing your knowledge.
  • Know the current trends: Be comfortable with social media. Make sure you’re knowledgeable about terms such as cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things.
  • Demonstrate your energy: Did you just complete a marathon? Enjoy Zumba? Slide in a mention of your interests outside of work that can show you are not slowing down.
  • Update their wardrobe: Is your last interview suit 10 years old? Clothing can make you look hip instead of dowdy. Make sure you have a few updated pieces to modernize your look.

Stress Your Strengths and Keep a Positive Attitude

While the little quiz I gave you at the beginning of the article provided negative connotations of each generation, there are many positive attributes held by each generation. Millennials can also be viewed as innovative, technologically savvy and self-expressive! Gen Xers are self-reliant and practical! And, how about those Baby Boomers that are invaluable to their employers because of their experience, skills and loyalty.

When you concentrate on your positive attributes and view ageism as just one of the obstacles you can overcome, you’re going to land the job you want.

How have you overcome ageism in your job search? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Author: Michelle Robin

The toughest marketing challenge of all is marketing you, and the purpose of this blog is to help marketing superstars, like you, conquer that challenge and excel in your career.

Passionate about direct marketing and helping people find jobs, Michelle Robin has translated her extensive B-to-B marketing background into a career focused on her true love: creating powerful career marketing documents that lead to interviews at her clients’ target organizations. As Chief Career Brand Officer at Brand Your Career, she works with executive-level sales and marketing professionals across the U.S., and helps them discover their personal brand and fast track their job search.

An award-winning and dual-certified resume writer (NCRW and PARW), Michelle’s work has been published in the book, Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed...Get Hired.

Need help discovering your personal brand? Download Michelle’s free Personal Branding Workbook. Just launching your job search? Get 26 action-packed tips to accelerate your marketing job search. You can also connect with Michelle on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.

6 thoughts on “How to Beat Ageism and Get Hired”

  1. At age 59 I moved to Fort Lauderdale. Still 8-10 years from retirement, I needed a full-time job. As a Baby Boomer, I shortened my resume to the last 15 years, but even so, I had 5 positions listed. My only choice, I felt, was to emphasize my versatility. I’ve done it all, adapted to technologies, know the ropes. It took three months, but I was hired because the hiring manager recognized that I could back up every other worker on her staff.

  2. Good advice, Michelle. I was on the job-hunting trail at 55 and then again in my early 60s. I believe “Demonstrate Your Energy” is very good advice but I want to expand on it: SHOW your energy in the job interview. I’m talking about speaking energetically, using hand and arm movements for emphasis and — if the opportunity arises — even rise from your chair to make a point. Like it or not, your job in the interview is to prove beyond a doubt you’re not a tired old man/woman looking to sunset his/her career at the interviewing company’s expense.

    1. Love it, Gle2n! Body language has a ton of influence on how you’re perceived. I would also suggest viewing Amy Cuddy’s TED talk to for some other tips to boost your confidence and energy before an interview.

  3. Very helpful article. My take as a boomer (age 55) is that once you get to 50+, you should really be thinking about going out on your own. I can’t think of anything more depressing than being 50+ pounding the pavement for a “job” (remember JOB stands for “just over broke”…). I realize that not everyone believes they can do this or wants to do this but I think it’s essential.

    Another thing to consider when companies are looking at hiring has less to do with the qualifications of boomers but more with the “costs” of a boomer. Specifically around health insurance costs. Boomers are seen as “expensive” while younger workers less so. The irony here is that workers of child bearing ages can be very expensive for a company once they start having children.

    I’m employed in a sales job now but came about via a long time contact who needed a sales person. I was in the right place at the right time and it is an area where I wanted to improve and it’s an industry that’s growing.

    But overall my take is that boomers should try to exit jobs and enter consulting or other pursuits to make a living as opposed to trying to win jobs from hiring managers that are barely older than my 20 something children 🙂

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I love your acronym for JOB.

      The costs of hiring to me is relative. I think Boomers can get a company where it wants to go, faster because they already know a lot about what works and what doesn’t. They don’t waste time experimenting. To me that is worth the investment in hiring a Boomer. Get the company where they want to go faster, and it’s a positive return on investment.

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