Playing the Age Game in Your Job Search

I feel like everyone I talk to in their job search feels they have faced ageism in their job search. Whether it be a recent graduate finding criticism that he is too young or inexperienced, or someone coming out of retirement being told they are behind in terms of technology and new thinking, ageism is a very real problem for job seekers. Even job seekers in the midst of their careers may feel ageism in certain job search situations.

The key is not to fight too hard against people’s preconceptions. The likelihood is, on some level, they are correct. A college graduate doesn’t have the background of someone with real-world experience, and someone reentering the workforce will likely need to be updated on new technologies and practices. Let potential employers know that you have some experience, or have kept up-to-date, but pounding them over the head with how you fit that description will prevent you from exploring the other qualities that make you qualified. Instead, place an emphasis on how your ‘age’ can be a benefit.

For those older job seekers facing ageism in their job search The Huffington Post suggests not giving away your age in your resume. If you list your date of graduation then potential employers can take a pretty good guess as to your age. I disagree with getting rid of all dates, but you can throw them under your title and company, hiding them away just a tad.

Young job seekers may want to avoid graduation dates as well, as it can pinpoint just how recently you graduated. Don’t clutter your resume with high school jobs with no relevance either. It will age you down and hide some of the valuable experience you may actually have. If you have only a few jobs this gives you an opportunity to really elaborate on how much experience you’ve gained and the achievements you’ve accomplished.

For those job seekers stuck in the middle of their careers, you may face ageism similar to what both younger and older job seekers face depending on your industry so the same rules apply.

The key for all job seekers facing ageism is to highlight the positives of their age without making age a focal point. Numbers tend to make age more pronounced, so instead highlight your skills and get rid of the numbers (time-related only). No matter where you are in your career you’re likely to face some instance of ageism in your life. Instead of worrying about this, own your age. You only get to be it once.

Have you ever experienced ageism in your job search? How about in the workplace? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by tonyhall