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  • Is Age Discrimination an Issue in Job Search?

    Many of my clients are concerned that their older age may be a deterrent to their ability to compete for jobs in the current economic climate. Their concerns are valid.

    While age discrimination is illegal, we all know it exists. So, what can a job candidate do about it? Answers can fall into three relevant categories. First, on your résumé it’s best to avoid giving the reader an opportunity to disqualify you because of age. (The résumé reviewer’s actual first interest is to qualify or disqualify you based on your skills.) Therefore, there’s no need to list jobs you had many years ago. The reader’s focus is more or less only on what you did in the past 10 to 15 years. All jobs prior to that can be lumped under the heading Additional Relevant Experience without mentioning dates—unless there’s something very relevant to the position you’re applying for. And there’s no need to mention your year of college graduation, either.

    The second category under age-related concerns is personal appearance. In most cases, an in-person interviewer can estimate your age within a few years. Of course there are exceptions, but one is advised to appear younger. Ask for advice about that from an unbiased and trusted source. In my role as a career coach, I’m often asked for such suggestions.

    The third category concerns learning how to give interview answers that project youthfulness. Whenever you have the opportunity, mention to the interviewer that you’re physically active. Perhaps you work out five days a week, or bike in the summer, or enjoy long walks and hiking.

    So, these are the best tactics you can take. But what’s happening across the desk? What are the concerns of recruiters, hiring managers, and others regarding your age? This is what you should be aware of. With today’s technology in the era of the Internet, employers have easy means to find out a lot about you in addition to–and beyond–your age.

    There are numerous paid-for services that provide quite an array of personal information about you. Some of the services are even free. For example, try a search for your own name on www.pipl.com. It’s likely that you’ll find there not only disclosure of your age but also your address, your phone, perhaps your e-mail address, addresses where you lived previously, and the names of your spouse and children.

    Several other common search engines also publicly reveal such personal information; examples are Google, Facebook, 123People, and Spock. And I’m sure there are many others revealing a variety of similar personal information about you. In doing my research for this article, I found that in some instances, people were able to avoid the unwanted disclosure of such information, while other people provide ample opportunities for the seeker to find it.


    Alex Freund is a career and interviewing coach known as the “landing expert” for publishing his 80 page list of job-search networking groups via his web site http://www.landingexpert.com/. He is prominent in a number of job-search networking groups; makes frequent public presentations, he does workshops on resumes and LinkedIn, teaches a career development seminar and publishes his blog focused on job seekers. Alex worked at Fortune 100 companies headquarters managing many and large departments. He has extensive experience at interviewing people for jobs and is considered an expert in preparing people for interviews. Alex  is a Cornell University grad, lived on three continents and speaks five languages.


    Alex Freund, known as the “landing expert,” supports job seekers into employment. He is known for making people feel comfortable when interviewing. Alex is an effective and successful career and interviewing coach. He is prominent in several on- and off-line job-search networking groups, makes frequent presentations, and conducts workshops on effective resume development and use of LinkedIn in the job-search process. Alex has been teaching for several years a career development seminar, and his blog designed especially for job seekers is widely published through various popular blogsites. Prior to his current position, Alex managed many large departments in two Fortune 100 companies. Alex maintains and publishes The Landing Expert List, a free directory of job-search networking groups via his web site at http://www.landingexpert.com Alex is a Cornell University grad, lived on three continents and speaks five languages.

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    Posted in Career Development, Interview, Job Search, Personal Branding
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    10 comments on “Is Age Discrimination an Issue in Job Search?
    1. avatar
      Val Matta says:

      There’s always a distinct chance you’ll be judged for your age. However, it’s important to counter any concerns with real experiences, results, and plans for the organization. This way, you’ll probably start to notice less attention towards your age, and more attention towards your talent.

    2. avatar

      I think that age shouldn’t be an issue at the time of hiring. But unfortunately some of the Business think that a lot of older people do not know about technology, social media, and those internet tools like younger applicants do. Also people should be hire according to their work experience, education, and knowledge, not about age.

    3. avatar
      Sujit Paul says:

      Ageism is s factor but talent and experience is more important than that. So should not hesitate with the age issue and go forward your dream job and career change.

    4. avatar

      Sujit, this is absolutely correct but how to do convince the decision maker? THAT is the issue.

    5. avatar
      Kal says:

      One way to look younger for guys is to color hair either black or other color that suits you. I have seen an HR video, where age discrimination happened to the same guy by the same company just because the same person looked older in one interview, while in the other interview he dressed and did makeup to look younger. Guess what? When he looked younger, he got the job offer!

    6. avatar

      Energy and enthusiasm are two things you should exude. Healthy living and eating will do that for you. Knowing and understanding current technology is another nod in your favor. I know a woman who lost out on the job because she didn’t know about smartphones. She has excellent credentials but wasn’t up-to-date on today’s technology. The result–she went out an bought an iPad.

    7. avatar
      Alex Freund says:

      HI Arleen,
      Your comments are always right on the money. Thanks for contributing

    8. avatar
      Cindy says:

      I don’t have my year of college graduation on my resume but many online applications require college graduation year so when I see that I know it’s pretty certain I will not hear back from that employer. I have been applying for many jobs and have come to believe age descrimination is interfering with getting past making the initial application. We definitely live in a different job seekers world. Companies, especially public companies no longer want to pay for wisdom and experience it seems.

    9. avatar

      Regarding one’s resume: in today’s computerized world, many companies require you fill out an application online. If you do not put the year you graduated from college (some companies even want to know the year you graduated from high school), then the online application will not allow you to go forward with your application. So, employers find out your age simply by looking at the year you graduated from college. I guarantee that if an employer did not have access to this information, I would get a lot more interviews because of my qualifications. Age discrimination is built in right from the beginning of the job application process, yet an applicant has no way to prove that is why he/she did not get an interview.

      • avatar
        Cindy says:

        I have decided that once I am back in the job market again, which will be soon, I am going to go after work where age is not an issue such as real estate and substitute teaching. I still need to get my real estate license. Both of these fields have people of all ages working in them. The alternative is if you can’t find work to make work namely by becoming an entrepreneur.

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