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Steps to Curb Ageism in the Job Hunt Process

Steps to Curb Ageism in the Job Hunt Process

Job seekers begin to worry about age discrimination as early as their mid-forties. Serious concerns begin around 55. And the truth is, age discrimination, or ageism, is out there.

There are a lot of reasons, not related to skills, that people don’t get hired. They may be considered too young or, in some cases, the wrong gender.

They may not get the job because, subconsciously, they remind the interviewer of a former boss they despised.

Conscious and unconscious biases exist.

While you can’t control them, you don’t have to feed into them either.

If you’re concerned about age discrimination, do what you can to not look old and outdated during your job search.

Modern e-mail.

Ditch the AOL email address. While AOL was cutting edge 20+ years ago today it makes you look dated. That goes for Yahoo and Hotmail too. Switch to something more current like

Choose an email address that’s professional like your name or a version of your name for your job search. Addresses like talktome@ or fastdriver@ won’t impress employers.

Whatever you do, don’t use your company email as many employers monitor staff emails today.

[Related: Blatant Ageism in Tech: Why You Should Hire Employees over 50]

Background photo.

When LinkedIn changed its user interface a few years ago they added space at the top for a background photo. The default is a barely designed medium blue box.

A lot of smart people don’t bother to upload a photo. Many don’t even think about it. This is a big mistake for two reasons.

It makes you look generic, which you’re not. Even worse, it makes you look outdated and may make employers wonder it that’s the only place you’re outdated.

Strong profile.

Many people misuse LinkedIn, particularly the Summary section. Some write it in the 3rd person, much as they would a bio for their business or company site. Other people use the Summary, and often the Professional Experience section, as an advertisement for their employer.

When recruiters or employers visit your LinkedIn profile, they want to know about you. So give them some insight into why you do what you do. What gets you excited or makes you proud? Why did you choose your career in the first place?

[Related: Career Curb Appeal is a Thing -- Do You Have It?]

Modern appearance.

Being over 50 doesn’t mean you’ll never find a job. But, just as your resume should have a modern look, so should you.

This doesn’t mean you have to try to look younger. But a suit, hairstyle, or eyewear that’s a decade old might not help your chances.

Rethink your overall appearance. Are you wearing the same interview suit you wore the last time you were out of work? Now might be the time to get something new.

Avoid certain phrases.

Once you’re looking fresh and vibrant avoid phrases that date you. Nothing screams “I’m old” more than an AOL email is saying “back in the day.”

Mentioning that the IT gal reminds you of your daughter or, worse, your granddaughter or your son showed you how to set up your LinkedIn profile will age you as well.

Don’t anticipate age discrimination when you’re looking for a new job. People in their 60’s find jobs in “young” industries.

As a recruiter, one of the candidates I worked with was a woman in her 60’s. I never asked her age, she mentioned it to me in conversation. While I didn’t place her, she was one of the top candidates. And she did find an advertising job through someone else.

She had a vivacious, engaging personality. I didn’t meet her face-to-face, but her LinkedIn photo showed a vibrant, current looking woman with a friendly smile.

Being of a certain age didn’t stop her. It doesn’t have to stop you either.

[Related: Reflecting On Ellevate's "Employment After 50" Poll]


Annette Richmond is a 5X Certified Executive Resume Writer, LinkedIn Profile Writer, former recruiter, former journalist, and owner of career intelligence Resume Writing and Career Services. She is one of fewer than 50 resume writers worldwide to hold the Certified Master Resume Writer designation. Annette has been featured on Monster, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Medium, and Business Insider. Her work appears in Resumes For Dummies.

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