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 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. A similar website is spokeo.com.
Several other common search engines also publicly reveal such 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.