Age discrimination while job searching: how to overcome it

Last updated: July 10, 2024
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Elyssa Duncan
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Age discrimination while job searching: how to overcome it
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Across the United States, we’ve seen a common complaint among large corporations and small family businesses - a shortage of workers. Employers claim they are scrambling to find enough applicants to fill positions. However, this problem has made the shadows of age discrimination in hiring even more prominent - particularly in the age of job searching during COVID.

According to AARP, 2 out of 3 workers between ages 45 and 75 have faced age discrimination while on the job, and thousands of workers state they’ve been repeatedly turned away because of their age, despite having the right qualifications for the job.

If you feel that your age might negatively impact your ability to find a job, consider these 5 tips to help you succeed!

Revamp your resume

Before submitting your application to a potential employer, it’s a good idea to give your resume some attention. You'll want to stay current with the look of your resume, paying attention to font choices and layout styles.

Eliminate work experience more than 10 years old from your resume and exclude it from online forms and applications. Remove the dates you attended high school or college and instead, emphasize your current skills with tangible examples and illustrate how these match the needs of the available position.

Learn more about resumes 

Practice your interviewing skills

Before your interview, take the time to plan some mock interviews, especially if you are just getting back into the working world. Have a friend or family member ask you a few sample interview questions, so you feel comfortable when it’s time for the interview.

You may have to work a little harder than younger competitors to show that you’ll fit in, so be sure to think carefully about how you want to be perceived. It will be worth it!

Practice confident, calm body language, and make sure to keep eye contact and smile throughout. If you are hit with a tough interview question that you are unsure how to answer, just take a deep breath and take a moment to compose your thoughts before responding.

Lead with energy and skills, not age

When having conversations with recruiters or hiring managers, be sure to use this as a chance to express your excitement for the role and the work that you do. Highlighting out all of your years of experience (despite how meaningful) can come across as intimidating and may make you appear “overqualified” for the job.

Instead of discussing how many years of experience you have or how many similar positions you’ve held, use concrete examples of your competencies and skills to show how you have a leg up on younger applicants. This is a great opportunity to communicate your willingness to learn and adopt new practices. Mention you recognize that you’ll be receiving training on the job, and are excited to acquire new skills!

Ask yourself, how does MY experience fit into what they do now? Support the reasons why they should hire you versus younger competition. What does your experience provide over someone else who has only been doing the job for 2 years?

Show employers that you are tech-savvy

Make sure you’re up to speed on technology and the latest trends in your industry. You don’t need to be fluent in every platform imaginable, but at the very least, include any social media profiles or other programs on your resume that you regularly use so that an employer can see that you’re comfortable with technology.

If you’re not a tech whiz, consider taking an online or local technology course to brush up on things or to learn new skills if you need to. Employers will love that you are staying current, and it will show initiative that you are self-educating. Remember, they want someone who can keep up! Check out these sites for great online courses.

Align with the company’s culture

Having a deep understanding of a company’s core values and mission and demonstrating your alignment with them is critical to overcoming the potentially unspoken concern that the rest of the team may be younger than you.

Make a note of the company culture, and if possible, try to land an informational interview with someone from the company! Having an internal champion sharing praises of you before you even apply to the job can give you a huge leg up.

More information 

Have you ever faced age discrimination in the hiring process? Share your story in the comments below.

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Joyce Ortis
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Temporary Part Time Position at Facca Richter Pregler P C

Employers are sneaky today they now ask what year you graduated from high school. That's how they get away with age discrimination.

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Jeanne Vignau
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Telemarketer at Kendallville Publishing Company

I was hired at a concierge in an assisted living facility. My job was to greet people at the door. With Covid , I had to take temps and fill out questionnaires for each person coming into the bldg. I collected mail and distributed it to residents. I answered phones, helped with serving at mealtime and played bingo with the residents. New boss said to do activities. That wasn't part of the job. We had a Woodstock day and because of their ages, none of them had ever heard of it. Of course, I explained it but they couldn't relate. The music played was out of the 60's and 70's. Most of the residents were of the Frank Sinatra, Patty Page and Tony Bennett fans. They never heard of Jimmy Hendrix or Janis Joplin. Needless to say, as much as I hyped it, they really didn't get it. We played corn hole and at one point my boss said, "I know how to talk to old people" meaning me and she laughed. At a staff meeting she was handing out gifts and saying what each person's job was. When she got to me, she said "I don't know what she does". There's more but I'm tired of going on. Life is not fair especially when you're old.

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Victoria Winn
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Age discrimination is real. My last company VP tokd me they prefer to hire kids straight out of college so they can mold their minds the way they need them and he was in his 50's but started straight out of college. I found a lot of companies telling me that. Now I'm in the job seeking market and I keep getting to that 2nd-3rd-4th interview and each time stating I interviewed very well but they chose someone else. The reason I'm over qualified or I might get bored. I didn't want to admit that especially since the people that interviewed me are my age over 55+.

Saddens me we are not embracing what our age market can bring to the table.

I have a 2nd interview next week with another company and so many fears are coming up.. I will be myself, if they don't like me due to my age,, NEXT!

2y
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Larry Sanders
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I've experienced that before which job did I not get

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Saroja Senevirathne
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Thank you for your honesty. I will work on my resume and cover letter

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Y Atwood
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Director, Marketing and Communications

I feel for you. Happened to me, too... after 11 years and at 53 my job and the job of a woman who worked me (who was 60 and had metastatic breast cancer) were "discontinued" due to a change in business plans. My employer proceeded to replace us with two much younger workers in redefined roles with the exact same combined salary expense. My colleague took the minimal severance offered, but I instead filed an EEOC charge. After 18 months, the EEOC issued me a "right-to-sue" letter, but a lawyer told me I was unlikely to be successful with a lawsuit because I had nothing in writing or statements witnessed by anyone to prove it was because of age. I hear that sometimes the EEOC will coordinate a mediation to resolve differences out of court, or in some cases even prosecute a class-action lawsuit themselves. But in my case they did next to nothing either because of COVID or because my employer was small and not high-profile enough.

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Charles King
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I was fired as were 4 other coworkers who were all over 55 years of age, company said it was because of a change in business plans. Go figure that !

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Caryl Kuykendall-Harris
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Area Director Of Sales And Marketing at Hilton Hotels Corporation

YES!!!

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Donna Rennix
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What they don’t seem to realize is that many new retirees don’t HAVE to work - but - WANT to work.

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Suzanne Gill-Lynn
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Silvia I love what you said. I'll have to remember that when I go on an interview.

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