When Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service’s Associate Professor Johanna Lahey conducted an experiment on interview callbacks during the last recession, she found that younger workers (i.e., anyone under age 35) were 40% more likely to be asked to come in for an interview. This probably does not come as a surprise to older workers who are looking to get back into the job force.
While many older job-seekers tend to feel that their age is a disadvantage, there are ways to counteract this reality. The job-hunting website Aprés offers some recommendations for how to use your age as a positive during the job-search process. We’ve selected three to highlight here:
- Demonstrate Digital Savvy. More and more hiring managers use Google to research candidates; so to stay competitive in the job market, you need to have an online presence and be well-versed in social media. This means having a LinkedIn profile and being familiar with platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Creating a personal website or blog is also an excellent way to make accessible for potential employers the information you want them to find. Our Balancing Work & Cancer webinar on Disclosure, Privacy & Online Brand gives tips for how to both protect and best present yourself online. Consider registering for the next one or watching an archived version on our Videos page.
- Focus on Networking. Providing an accurate representation of your abilities is best accomplished face-to-face, rather than via your resume. By networking widely, you’re able to show an array of people that you are capable, experienced and able to “keep up with the times.” Also, through networking you might be directly recommended for a job, which can eliminate some of the preconceived notions or doubts an employer may have about hiring someone older. For networking best practices, check out our post on “The Right Approach to Networking.”
- Reshape first impressions. Potential employers may misread a candidate’s extensive experience as an indication that the person is inflexible, set in his/her ways, slow to accept change or expensive, to name a few common stereotypes. As a result, it’s important that you explain who you are in a more advantageous way right out of the gate. Give details and examples of how you stay in tune with your industry or what activities you enjoy, to counteract potential concerns about age that a hiring manager might have. Take a look at our Interviewing section for some tips on redirecting conversations to topics you want to discuss — namely, what makes you the best person for the job.
Overall, it’s important to keep in mind that confidence is key when looking for a new job, regardless of age or experience. There continues to be a major shift in the retirement age, so greater numbers of people are working for more years than in the past, and thus potentially experiencing more instances of age discrimination. If you’ve been out of the workforce for some time or are interested in learning best practices for job-hunting, order or download our free Job Search Toolkit for expert advice on the many aspects of the process, including resumes, cover letters and networking!