Age Impacts Your Job Search, What You Can Do
Age discrimination may be prohibited when it comes to employment in the U.S., but the unfortunate truth is that it still exists regardless. No matter whether you’re of the older generation, the younger generation, or somewhere in between, you can potentially become a victim of age discrimination when job hunting.
Even before an employer looks at your resume, age discrimination can start playing a part. An employer can look you up online: on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Twitter, for instance. If you’re like most people, you’ll have a profile photo with a head-shot image of yourself.
In other instances, there are entire job-hunt sites discriminating against job seekers of the older generation. According to reporting from CNBC, the report claimed some job site software may ask job applicants to complete a form requiring applicants to enter the year they attended college. However, it abruptly stops at 1956. So, say you graduated from college before 1956. What can you do?
Clearly, there are hurdles to job searching for all ages. While some matters may not be in your immediate control, there are things you can do as a job seeker to ensure a fairer playing field while job hunting.
- Don’t Give Away Your Age on the Resume
There are many factors on the resume that can betray your age. It can be as simple as the email address you list as part of your contact information, or basic elements to the resume, like leaving an Objective statement instead of a Profile Summary. Other clues to your age may include the year you graduated from college. Since many graduate from college around their early 20s, leaving in the year can provide hint to your age. Discover other ways your resume can give away your age and what you can do to prevent it by reading: “Resume Age Bias Exists: What You Can Do.”
- Obtain the Training and Certifications You Need
There are some professions where certain training and certification is needed. As a job applicant, you either meet the job requirements or you don’t. When you have completed and obtained the proper credentials, there’s less of a hurdle to face. If you’re a career changer, make sure not to assume that you can just jump ship and be at the same professional level as your previous career. That’s not necessarily how it works, most of the time. You may very well have to start at the bottom where you’re competing with much younger professionals. Be prepared to show employers that you have the proper training and credentials to hold down the job and succeed at it with your own unique background of professional experience.
- Research the Employer
Job hunting can take up a lot of time, and that’s because good job hunting also involves conducting the proper research. While you take the time to research employers to target, don’t just look into its business and culture. Look at the employer’s demographics – its people. Know if the employer’s workforce has an average age of 25, or if the management team is mostly made up of professionals with 30+ years of experience. These types of details can hint at whether age is playing against you when you apply.
- Dress the Part
While there’s no changing your birth year, your personality and the way you dress can sway how others perceive you. Consider who you are interviewing with and where you are interviewing. Are you interviewing with a start-up company where the CEO is only 23-years-old and wears jeans to work every day, or are you interviewing with an established investment banking firm with a team of top-level executives who have made their career in the profession with 20+ years of experience and are seen in well-tailored black suits? Those are considerations in deciding how to dress for the interview. The key is to dress for the part and that particular employer. Also, don’t forget to let your personality shine. For specific tips on how to dress for the interview, read: “How to Dress for the Interview.”
Remember that your age is only one small part of who you are. Who you are as a professional is a different story entirely. Focus on your unique experience and skills, and what you can offer on the job. Also, let your personality come through. Employers want to know if you’re a character that will fit in with the work culture before they set out to hire you.