Let’s say you’re over 50, and you’re having a tough time finding a job. Is it the economy that’s the problem? Well, maybe. But it might be much more than that. An article in SmartMoney.com by Anne Kadetï¿½quotes a study in which younger and older job hunters, with comparable skills, were paired to see which applicant would be more favorably received. The younger applicants received more favorable responses (for example, getting an interview or job offer) 42% of the time, vs. only 1% of the time for the older applicants. And, shudder, in a survey by ExecuNet (a networking firm), 91% of recruiters say that if a candidate is over 50, age becomes a significant factor in the hiring decision. So, is age an issue? According to ExecuNet CEO Dave Opton, “You better believe it’s an issue, and it’s a big one.”
The SmartMoney article goes on to say, though, that while this may be uncomfortable to swallow, “age-based discrimination has roots in reality.” Yes, we may be more “stable” and have better people-skills – but by and large, and let’s be truthful, now, much of what some of us may be presenting is dated. Yes, dated.
So, if you’re serious about landing that new job, you’re going to have to work harder and smarter to up the odds. Here are some things to think about to update yourself.
Step one: Make friends with someone in their 30′s. Let them be your guide along this journey.
Step two: Check your language. Phrases like “value add” are dated. ï¿½Have your 30-something friend review your resume and cover-letter for tell-tale phrases that may outdate you.
Step three: Check your wardrobe. If you’re going for an interview, for goodness sake, do your homework. How do people dress there? If you show up in a formal suit-and-tie and your interviewer is in business-casual, you’ll both feel uncomfortable. More importantly, though, you’ll show that you’re out-of-touch when it comes to this issue. Ask your 30-something friend to help you put together a couple of interview outfits.
Step four: Update those computer skills! MS-Dos is no longer a mastery point that you should be touting on your resume. Get that 30-something friend to show you how to navigate an online application, how to text, how to email with your phone, and more. Yes, it matters.
Step five: Check your personal appearance. If you think people are treating you differently because you have silver at the temples, think about having a stylist color your hair. Overweight? Lose a few pounds. Your success in this area will carry over and boost your self-confidence.
If your goal is to get an After Fifty job, then you’re going to have to work much harder than your younger competition. No, it may not be fair – but you can do it.