Age Discrimination And Your Job Search

Age Discrimination And Your Job Search


For someone going through a career transition who is in their forties or above, one very real challenge they may be facing is ageism or age discrimination. Impacting men and women alike, all ethnic and racial groups, and seeming to be one of the most difficult of all prejudices to identify, age discrimination can severely impact the worker’s ability to make a living.

peopleA number of years ago when web based communities such as those managed by MSN were popular, there was a forum started by a man who claimed to be experiencing ageism. Though I was still in my thirties when I first came across his site, I was curious about this phenomenon, wondering if it was as serious as some claimed that it was. I also wondered if the site was a mass pity party of unemployed middle-aged folks, but soon learned that many forum participants were working and actively pursuing their careers.

The stories shared on that internet forum offered a fascinating picture of what some people encounter in the workplace. Some had worked as administrative assistants and clerks while others managed to improve themselves to the point where they managed entire operations, corporate divisions or local offices. However, most had also felt that ageism lurked beneath their company’s veneer, just about ready to jump out and latch onto to them especially if they were about to lose their job.

One important point repeated often by forum participants had to do with their resumes (a/k/a curriculum vitae or CV). Most human resources people will tell you that a decision on whether to go with a particular candidate or not is often decided within the first thirty seconds of reading their resume. This means that if there was any potentially damaging information on the copy, the HR folks would move on to another candidate immediately.

Clean Up Your Resume (CV), One Step At A Time

If you are an older worker who is looking for a new job, consider the following when it comes to your resume:

Include your cell phone and email address – When listing your personal information, include your cell phone and email address, two of the most common ways companies use to contact candidates. You’d be surprised how many “older” workers don’t include what is obvious to everyone else; don’t make it harder for potential employers to find you.

List recent jobs only – If you’ve been out of college for the past twenty-five years, it can be tempting to list every job you’ve held since then. Instead, go back ten years, perhaps fifteen and leave it at that. Your resume is designed to feature career highlights, not every job you’ve held. When filling out an employment application you can go back further than that.

Watch your language – You may be well versed in the English language, but be careful about using terminology that gives hints to your age. Importantly, leave off college graduation dates and anything else that reveals more about you personally than what you can do for a company specifically. Above all, lose the information about high school especially listing the year that you graduated.

Stay Connected

I recently advised and “older” person who had lost his job to get linked in. Literally! By joining LinkedIn and a few other select sites, he was able to get connected with the right people in the quickest amount of time including someone who will be interviewing him for an unannounced opening later this week. Yes, networking is critically important both online and offline.

If you believe that you are a victim of ageism, your state probably already has laws on the books to combat that problem. Consider filing a complaint, but also keep in mind that sometimes it pays to simply move on to an employer who respects your talents and what you can bring to them besides graying hair!

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Categories: Career Planning

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".