When you're looking for a job, your age can be a barrier in all stages of life. Presenter Jaclyn Jarmulowicz, workshop facilitator and program coordinator at the Framingham office of Employment and Training Resources, a Massachusetts One-Stop Career Center, offered valuable suggestions for neutralizing the age factor in your job applications and during a job interview.
We all deal with age discrimination at varying levels throughout our lives. The keys to overcoming that are knowing your own value, knowing your audience, and selling your value to prospective employers. There are many factors that are not within our control in the job search process, so we need to identify and work with those things that we can control.
Jaclyn suggested four steps that job seekers should take to redirect attention from our age. First, address it early on to help eliminate age-related assumptions that may be held by recruiters and interviewers. We can do that by owning it, disarming it and proving it with actual examples of ways in which we've demonstrated adaptability to change, dependability, and career successes.
For older job seekers, it's important to avoid using phrases like "at my age," when I was your age," and "young people today." Those phrases feed into age-related stereotypes.
When creating your resume, remove your education dates--they're often a good clue to your age. Your job history should go back only 10 - 15 years, not more. You can include important items from earlier jobs in a "career highlights" or "selected accomplishments" section. And be sure to include soft skills you possess, like mentoring.
It's important to consider all your options when looking for a job. Contract and temporary positions may lead to more permanent jobs, and you'll have the advantage of being a known quantity. Self-employment may be a good choice for some people. Volunteering can be a great way to make new networking connections and possibly gain new skills. Government jobs at both the state and federal could also be considered.
Job seekers should definitely create a LinkedIn profile with a professional, current photograph of yourself. Your "look" is important; clothing, hair style, make-up and accessories should be up-to-date. If you need some help to make a change, you could ask family members and friends for their advice.
Last and most important of all, maintain a positive attitude throughout your search It's often a difficult thing to do, but it could play a crucial role in your ultimate success in landing a job. Find ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your daily life; they'll help to open your mind for exploration and to build critical skills. Pursuing activities you enjoy, spending time with good friends, former colleagues and family members and exercising or meditating can all foster a positive mindset, critical for job seekers of any age.
Posted by Cynthia Carlson