How to Beat Ageism When Job Hunting

January 22, 2020

This article is for all of my lovely midlife job hunters. 

It’s also for you if you’re under 45 and looking to change jobs or up-level your career in other ways. And, as a person “of a certain age” myself, this topic is very near and dear to my heart. 

A few years back, I found myself suddenly laid off in my mid-forties and had to learn how I could position myself in the marketplace and create a demand for what I had to offer as a “seasoned” professional. 

I used this “seasoned professional” term on purpose here because it’s definitely not the term you want to use to describe yourself when it comes to looking for a new role! 

Job search in midlife is actually quite similar to any other time when you know how to do it right and when you also know what not to do such as using the term “seasoned”. 

Let’s first talk about a very important mindset shift that will be needed if this is you… 

If the chatter in your brain goes anything like “no one is going to want to hire me as an older seasoned worker that costs more money than someone younger and more energetic”, then you absolutely need to get a hold of those thoughts and choose more effective ones – on purpose. 

If this is you, I suggest that you flip the entire script to something like this: 

“I’m going to do my very best to learn how I can use my age to my advantage in my career and/or job search moving forward.”

While you can’t control if someone will discriminate against you because of your age (even though there are laws against it), you can control how you think, feel and behave around the situation. 

And that in itself can create completely different results in your career. 

1- Make sure your documents make you look "current"

 Your “documents” include your resume, your cover letters and your LinkedIn profile.  

This tip applies to anyone at any age. 
You will judged (rightly or wrongly) by how you look on paper so you might as well make sure you make a fresh and compelling first impression, on paper and online. 
In addition to your resume, you want to ensure your cover letters and your LinkedIn profile are written in such a way that positions you as the solution to your ideal role and employer’s challenges. 
That basically takes the age factor out of the equation. 
If you can demonstrate that you can get them results in an effective way, age will not likely come in as an issue at all.

2- Become a mind reader

Tapping into a prospective employer’s mind is a hack akin to being a mind reader. 

It can make a huge difference in positioning yourself as the best candidate for the role. 

This is where age can be so helpful because you have way more experience and knowledge of the workplace than your younger counterparts. 

That can give you insights that they will miss and you can use them to your advantage. 

Part of doing this starts before you’re even in an interview situation. 

Here’s what I mean: most likely you will have a job description available to review for a potential role you’re thinking of pursuing. Reading between the lines of that job description can give you valuable clues to an employer’s specific and top pain points. 

When you identify those pain points, and when you use them as part of your cover letter and elements you emphasize in your resume, you’re more likely to get to the interview stage. 

During the interview, you can use this information to your advantage and probe even deeper into the problems they are looking to solve with the role. Then, you can expertly position yourself as THE SOLUTION to these problems! 

This not only makes it more likely for you to get the job offer but it will also help you secure a higher compensation package as well

3- Use your age as an advantage

I’m sure you’ve heard many quotes around the concept turning your weaknesses into strengths… but what if what you thought was a weakness (such as your age) is actually a strength in disguise? 

What if because of your age, you can be MORE ATTRACTIVE to employers? 

So many people automatically assume that their age is going to be a hurdle, a weakness to overcome. 

What if that was wrong? 

What if there were employers out there who value your age that they have come to equal with things like: stability, emotional maturity, no drama, high level skills, valuable experience, flexibility…. 

Remember my lay off story above? I found that there were several employers that actually seemed to prefer to hire people with more experience i.e. “older”. They wanted to hire people that could hit the ground running. That would require little to no training at all. That would be able to contribute to the company results and the culture from day 1. 

Those employers exist and it’s on you to find them, and then make sure you market yourself to them in the right way as outlined in tips # 1 and # 2.

What's next?

If you’re serious about your career goals in midlife and you’re not getting the traction you want, they we need to chat! 

As a midlife woman myself, I have been in your shoes, and, managed to get multiple, attractive 6-figure job offers for myself, in midlife.  I know exactly what it takes and how to help you reach your goals.