RetirementJobs.com Staff Writers
Age discrimination is widely perceived to exist and there is evidence that age-based discrimination is a harsh reality. The question at hand is should you be concerned?
Academic, government and private research confirms the reality and consequences of age discrimination. So what? Knowing about it, and believing you will be a target, will not help you get an interview or a job offer. Proving age Discrimination during a job search is near impossible – and probably not worth your time. While there are indications that age discrimination in recruiting is subsiding slowly, you need a job now!
Recruiters, employers, consultants and successful age 50+ job seekers all agree on what you can do to overcome or at least minimize the likelihood you will be subjected to age discrimination while seeking work in retirement.
1. Dismiss Age Discrimination Thoughts - Flip that mental age discrimination switch to the “off” position. Think age-neutral. Focus on “connecting” to the interviewer before any real questioning starts. Banish any thoughts that reflect “reverse age Discrimination” where you believe a young person can’t possibly understand you – get them to understand your enthusiasm, skills, interests and ability to contribute.
2. Emphasize Capabilities, Not Experience - We have learned to equate experience to depth and strength of capabilities – don’t do it. It generally serves to de-emphasize duration of experience. Focus on the capabilities acquired during your work life.
3. Buy a Computer, Cell Phone, iPhone or PDA Device - Employers expect to be able to communicate with you by electronic mail (email). Showing that you are technology “savvy’ is a good thing. Not owning a computer can be a “showstopper”. You can buy a serviceable desk top or lap top computer for $400 to $600. You will also need an internet service provider (PeoplePC, AOL, Yahoo, or your local phone or cable TV provider). At the very least, you’ll want to be able to say, “You can always reach me on my cell phone”.
4. Acquire Basic Computer Skills - With few exceptions, many jobs require a fundamental working knowledge of computer skills. Start with Microsoft Office applications beginning with Word (word processing), then Outlook (basis for most corporate email systems, then Excel (spreadsheets), and finally PowerPoint (for presentations). Learn how to perform internet research on Google and similar sites. Check community colleges and adult education centers for classes or signup here to take a class online.
5. Avoid “Age” References – Don’t put graduation dates. Present only the most recent 15 to 20 years of employment and summarize prior work in a single paragraph without dates or durations.
6. Craft Your Resume and Applications – Carefully craft your resume or employment applications to focus on skills and capabilities, not length of service. Describe what you can do, what you have learned, and what you have accomplished. Consider having RetirementJobs.com help you edit or draft a new resume.
7. Practice Interviewing - It may have been some time since you interviewed and you may be facing a recruiter half your age. Practice answering and asking questions simply and directly. Be ready for awkward questions such as “How long do you plan to work?”, “Do you believe you are overqualified for this job?” Don’t get defensive. Give a direct and honest answer. Move the recruiter to discussing your qualifications and “fit” for the job.
8. Fitness and Appearance – Stay fit for life, not just for an interview. Get plenty of rest and some exercise before interviews. You may have your “lucky interviewing outfit” but if it is outdated, go shopping for something contemporary and fresh. Be well groomed. Don’t worry about being overdressed. Even in today’s casual dress culture, looking sharp and professional is still important.
9. Seek Out Age Friendly Employers – Look for RetirementJobs.com’s Age Friendly Employer Certification™ seal on job postings. Some certified companies include Borders Bookstores, H&R Block and Staples with more to come in the future. Check out AARP’s Best Employers for Workers 50+ and Fortune Magazines 100 Best Employers.
10. Use the Latest Internet Networking Tools – Show employers that you are “wired” into the internet. The best tool out there is “Linkedin.com”. Sign up and even invite your best hiring manager prospects to join your network. You should also search your own name in such search engines such as Google or Zoom Info. Make sure your search results are the best they can be from a hiring manager’s perspective. Finally, be certain to register and post your resume at http://www.retirementjobs.com.
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