Ageism is alive and well regardless of whether employers want to admit it. Unless an employer blatantly calls attention to your age as being a problem, you’d likely have a hard time proving it, so the best alternative is to look past your age and be as vibrant and relevant as possible. Here’s how:
- Look your best. Be physically fit, well-groomed, and properly dressed. Trade in your old clothes and glasses and dress in more stylish garb. Get with the times.
- Immerse yourself in technology. Employers worry that older workers will fumble with technology. Prove them wrong.
- Build and maintain a strong online presence. Invisibility is a liability, demonstrating that someone is out-of-date and unable to navigate the online world. It’s critical to have a LinkedIn Profile and make “connections,” get recommendations and more. Depending on your expertise, you might consider having your own web page, Facebook page, and Twitter handle.
- Establish your ability to learn and adapt. Take classes, find a mentor, and connect with younger people to demonstrate your humility and ability to learn from old and young alike.
- Downplay yourself as a flight risk. Employers may worry that you’re taking a job just to ride out the years between now and your retirement. Demonstrate your passion and commitment to your profession and your enthusiasm for learning and contributing to the world. You’re not just in it for a job.
- Market your age as a plus. You can hit the ground running without a lot of training and supervision. You know it, now sell it.
- Practice positivity. You don’t need a face lift, you need a faith lift. Focus on lifting your spirit rather than your skin. A positive attitude is your best defense against ageism.
- Stay present. Don’t chatter on in interviews about successes you had ten years ago. Focus on what you’ve done lately.
Ask people who know you well, whose opinions you value and trust, to evaluate you in writing: on your best skills and talents, your personality, and the roles you’ve been really good at. Let your people pump you up.
By Kerry Hannon