Five Ways to Use Your Age as an Asset in Your Job Search

Laura came to JVS with negative attitudes about her age and the belief she would never be hired. Like many older job seekers, she was concerned about the impact of age discrimination on her job search – and whether she could overcome it. How far should she go back on her resume? When she got an interview, would the employer immediately have stereotypes about whether she could connect with younger coworkers, multi-task and work at a fast pace?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 prohibits treating job applicants or employees who are over age 40 less favorably because of age. While there is an increase in the number of age discrimination complaints filed by older workers, a recent study by the American Association of Retired People (AARP) found that “Workers age 50+ add value to organizations due to their high levels of engagement, stability, productivity, motivation and experience.”

Here are five ways to make your wisdom and years of experience an asset for an employer:

1. Value your Age and Experience.

One way to make your age an asset is to feel like you’ve earned the right to own it. This is a culture that often emphasizes youth and beauty, but there are many role models to learn from. Don’t apologize for being older or minimize your abilities because of your age. Instead, emphasize your years of experience, talents, abilities and commitment to life-long learning.

2. Upgrade your Skills Strategically.

In today’s changing world of technology, you need to make sure your computer skills are excellent and you are updated about trends and new developments in your particular field. Research the software programs potential employers use and use webinars and online classes to keep current.

3. Network Across all Platforms.

Draw on the power of your personal, community and business networks. Make lists of former coworkers, employers, relatives, friends, business contacts, volunteer connections and other people who could be helpful to your job search — including JVS staff. Attend networking events and learn how to build a LinkedIn profile (JVS offers classes on this) and how to make contacts via this platform.

4. Address Gaps in your Employment History.

In today’s workplace most employers understand that various factors can impact a job seeker’s employment history. Develop one to two sentences explaining your gap. For example: “I was a caregiver for my elderly parents for 18 months” or “I took time off to take courses in accounting to keep my skills current.” Get guidance on how to show this on your resume and practice discussing it in an interview setting.

5. Find Employers who will Value your Skills and Experience.

Identify employers who are open to hiring experienced workers. Use the San Francisco Bay Area Book of Lists to identify local employers with the best hiring records and check sites like Glassdoor to read employee reviews about different work sites.

Laura found a job and shared the following:  JVS played a big part in helping me move out of my old attitude about age and into a new attitude about life. Her tips:  Make sure you are still growing. Recognize that what you learned in the past can help your employer now. Finally, being open and interested in learning is huge and very appealing to employers and everyone else.­

Read more about Laura’s tips for older job seekers.

Betty Szudy
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