I’m often asked about how to overcome age-ism. Here’s a representative question:
“What is frustrating these days is that there many people (Over the age of 65) with excellent experience, knowledge, and backgrounds in their respective areas of expertise but cannot find a suitable position.
Employers, (who use younger recruiters) discreetly discriminate against older workers. Somehow or other they think that we will get up and quit after a short period of time.
Due to our current economy, many older people want to work well into their 70’s. How do you overcome or convince these younger people that we the older worker) want to work and contribute to the over all success of the organization.”
Here was my answer:
One group you might want to look into is “Gray Hair Management.” They specialize in outplacement & career coaching services for ‘older’ workers.
Looking for work over 65 is always more difficult for full-time work at professional levels. The issues employers are concerned about with every older candidate are that much more of a worry for them when you are past what most would consider a ‘normal’ retirement age. The problem isn’t the age itself, it’s the characteristics that are assumed to come along with the age – employers are worried:
- You won’t have the energy & passion for the job that a younger worker might
- You won’t have the technology savvy – and won’t be as willing or able to learn
- You will be too expensive
- You won’t stay long, so they’ll be back in hiring mode shortly
The more you can counter those issues right up front in the way you present yourself, the more success you will have. Come up with clear stories to deal with each of these issues.
Also take a close look at your appearance:
- When you network and interview, do you dress in quality, up-to-date clothes?
- Do your clothes fit you extremely well?
- Do you have a ‘modern’ haircut?
- Are your glasses ‘old style’ or modern?
Another option is to look into consulting/contracting, where the age and expertise you bring to the table may be considered an advantage. I’ve been working with one older client to define and build an independent consulting practice, and he has quickly become quite well known in his niche, is frequently called on to speak at a variety of specialized conferences, and now has a thriving practice.