Every week we hear from clients who express fear of or frustration with age discrimination in the hiring process. They feel as if it’s impossible to find a job after 50. Employers don’t want to pay for a mature level of experience, they don’t want to bring on someone who will retire soon or leave for a better position, or they don’t believe that older workers are nimble enough to handle changes in technology and process.
And the reality is, there is sometimes age discrimination in the hiring process—not just for older workers, but for younger workers, too. Despite laws to prevent it, there remains sexism, classism and racism as well. It can be tremendously difficult to prove, so while it’s not right or fair, it’s a challenge that applicants have to learn to overcome. Fortunately, whatever the “ism,” there are ways to minimize its potential impact.
- If at all possible, bypass the online application process and seek out the hiring manager directly. This is good advice for job seekers of all ages and levels. Automated keyword screening systems are the mortal enemy of applicants.
- Use your network to uncover job openings. It’s not just what you know—though that’s certainly important—but who you know as well. If you can get an audience with the decision-maker, you can wow them with your experience and skills. Suddenly, age is irrelevant.
- Learn to showcase your skills and accomplishments in a way that will benefit the employer most. This is where a professional resume writer can really help you shine. Follow up with a handwritten thank you note; good manners can go miles toward addressing age discrimination in the hiring process.
- When talking to a hiring manager, make sure you drill down to the point of pain and address how you can solve it. Stand out from the usual generic, feel-good responses with specific experiences that show you’re better qualified to solve the company’s need.
- Be sure that you truly are putting forth the best effort—thoroughly prepare, reach out to recruiters in your industry and make finding a new position your full-time job. Make sure your expectations are realistic: Everyone has to apply to several dozen jobs (if not more) before getting called for an interview.
While proving discrimination can be difficult, if you know you’ve been discriminated against, reach out to your local authorities to report the business. They can walk you through the process of filing a report.
The fact is, being the best person for the job is always just one part of getting the job; factors such as timing, relationships, or even the mood of the hiring manager that day could all complicate a decision. Control the parts that you can control to best position yourself to be the top banana no matter what.