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Don’t Let Your Age Hold You Back When Job Hunting.

Don’t Let Your Age Hold You Back When Job Hunting.

Although there are laws on the books to protect workers 40 and over from being discriminated against, that does not mean such illegal practices don’t take place during the background screening process.

As a worker who is 40 or over, do you know your rights, along with what to look for when job hunting? If the answer to both matters is no, then take the time to research your rights so that you are not denied a job, especially given today’s troubling economy.

For the older worker, they bring a plethora of qualities to the interview and position if hired that simply should not be overlooked. Among which are:

  • The experience factor – Older workers have been there and done that so to speak. They can be beneficial to any company, especially younger ones who are looking to get a strong foothold in the business world. With their experience, they can offer advice and knowledge that someone just out of college simply can’t;
  • Determination to succeed – While there are certainly some older workers who need a refresher course in how to be a productive employee, most bring a work regimen that is second to none. They know the meaning of showing up on time, giving 100 percent, mentoring younger workers, and will be more likely to remain on hand with the company for a longer period of time;
  • Connections to others – The older worker has also been around and networked during his or her career. That being said, your business can lean on them to utilize their contacts and open possible doors for sales, marketing and more. This can be an invaluable tool as you look to expand operations.

If you’re an older worker who is currently interviewing for a job, keep several factors in mind:

  • Salary isn’t everything – Many of us over 40 have had to alter our work habits over time. We have also had to accept taking lesser wages in order to get back in the working world following a layoff, etc. If you find yourself interviewing for jobs that pay less than you’re used to, weigh the pros and cons of taking the position if offered. You may be disappointed in the salary, but remember that job offers do not come along each and every day. You can always take a lesser paying job to hold you over until you find what you are looking for;
  • Sharpen your technology skills – One thing that can work against an older employee in today’s technologically-driven world is not being up to speed on such skills. If it has been a while since you’ve sharpened your computer skills or the job you’re applying for requires certain talents like photo shop, Dreamweaver, etc. look into taking a course at a local college so your skill level does not work as a detriment to you;
  • Don’t be afraid to compete – There is a perception among some older workers that they cannot compete with younger rivals who are more likely to accept less money, more than likely are up to speed on computer skills, and are not set in their ways. If you find yourself feeling this way, change that feeling at once. Leverage your experience when fighting for a job. Don’t be afraid to highlight what you can bring to a position, however do it in a proper tone and not one of arrogance. Competition should spur you on to go after a job, not deter you.

The bottom line is that while your chronological age is not under your control, how you act is.

If you feel like you’re too old, don’t have the skill set and will not be a good fit for the company, chances are you won’t get the job.

On the other hand, if you feel younger than you are, put your experience to work for you and carry a positive attitude into each and every interview, chances are you won’t be interviewing for too long.

 

Dave Thomas writes extensively for Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

 

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38 comments

  1. Thank you everyone for the great feedback! Being a ‘tad’ over 40…. I watch what goes on the whatever workplace I am in very closely. I am happy to say that while one of the older employees in my current job, I am treated like anyone else and not afraid to give my opinion. Having worked as a writer for 23 years, I like to think I can bring some experience to the younger writers. That is only fair since I had people mentor me back in the day. For those that said age is only a chronological factor, I agree 100 percent. I actually look forward to going to work more now than I did when I was younger for a variety of reasons.

  2. This is an excellent post. I haven’t seen 40 in quite a while, but I am infinitely sharper than I was then, or at 30 or even at 25. I love what Karen-Kay said about how “Confidence at any age will always be the strongest selling point — if you can’t believe in yourself, neither can anyone else.”

    One thing that employers are concerned about it the possibility of health issues with older workers. This applies as much to existing workers as to new hires. Plenty of older workers are let go when the employer tires of paying more for health benefits.

  3. I’m always amazed when people say that they are “too old…” to compete in the job marketplace. Nonsense. Experience counts for a lot in today’s job climate. Many younger workers, while cheaper to hire, often don’t have the discipline, maturity and work ethic that older workers have. But I definitely agree with the author that you need to sharpen your technology skills.

  4. There are so many other ways for potential employers to screen candidates by age, including requiring driver’s license information or HS graduation year. Stay current with technology, be positive about your wealth of experience and never lose your self-esteem. Confidence at any age will always be the strongest selling point — if you can’t believe in yourself, neither can anyone else. Each rejection will only move you closer towards an employer or opportunity where you can be appreciated and respected for your years of hard work.

  5. Lots here that I agree with. I think part of the positive thinking is not being afraid to make *your* preferred work patterns, and *your* vision of how you can pursue your own goals (especially those values based on your depth of experience) to the benefit of the company, a key element in the deal.

    The alternative is to over-compromise, in order to “fit in”, and this just comes over as undervaluing yourself through a lack of self-belief.

    As ever – if that mix doesn’t work – it was the wrong opportunity or the wrong prospective employer… culture etc.

  6. Some helpful advice for me – I’m 50 not looking for a job at the moment but things are looking unpleasant at work!

  7. I’m retired now, but age has nothing to do with knowledge. or experience. That would be my attitude.

  8. Great post! With all the experiences and other skills, the best advice is to be technically savvy. It is crucial.

  9. Thanks, I’m about to hit 40 and glad of the advice.

  10. Great post Bob. Attitude is everything!

  11. Yep, my kids are grown and out of the house, I’ve met everyone who’s anyone in a half dozen industries and I’ve got a much more adaptable personality than I had when I was 25 AND, I’m a good bit smarter, so you’d be lucky to get me on your payroll.

    Used to be that companies didn’t want to hire people who would be retiring in 10 years. Now, who stays in one company for 10 years anyway?

  12. Good advice, thank you!

  13. “Salary isn’t everything ” this is my favorite part, there’s so much more to consider besides the money!

  14. Great article. As someone who will be entering the workforce again after raising kiddos for years, I’m hoping my experience will be considered far more than my age!

  15. Thanks for sharing. I’m 45+ now, just in case.

  16. Awesome article, thanks for sharing.

  17. Thanks for the great and timely advice. Some of my personal friends are in this situation right now.

    You are a true leader as true leaders do, you framed reality and gave hope. Thanks again for sharing.

    Iggy

  18. Important post. I’ll pass it along.

  19. So long as you’re youthful inside, your chronological age won’t matter. Confidence isn’t defined by that number anyway, and that’s your #1 asset be it when job-hunting, deal-closing or thrill-seeking.

  20. I LOVE your posts. Fear is a biggie. Great advice.

  21. Good advice, but plenty of good advice in the comments too!

  22. Solid advice. I know some of my friends struggle to find a job, and age is one of the factor. I’ll share the article with them. Thanks, Bob.

  23. I’m with Michelle! I’m in the over 40 crowd and am doing everything I can daily to stay on top of the latest technology and Social Media happenings! Surrounding yourself with positive influences and engaging with them is key in my opinion!

    Thank you Bob, always enjoy your posts..

  24. This one is for me. I am out looking for work and see all the older generation sitting around looking like they have given up. What a shame and waste of good man power, it make me sad.
    Life is to short to waste, just get back to work.
    Working keep you young and fit.

  25. This is totally applying to me. Thanks!

  26. Many older workers forget that they must stay up on the new social media that is now taking over. If they don’t they will be bypassed in this market. I’m training constantly everyday to keep up, and I can run circles around some of the younger ones, because of the world-wide experts that I follow.

  27. This is an awesome article that actually pretty clear puts the cards on the table. Having the ducks in a row for a job, I would take this a step further and claim, there is nobody under 40 that can do this job better. Just alone for the reasons mentioned. I wouldn’t package it like this, but I would deliver the message.
    It is incredible stupid of corporate to prefer younger candidates. As a matter of fact, there is actually no better way to waste resources. I don’t even understand how this came up. Can someone enlighten me?

  28. From Dave Thomas’ pen to hiring company ears. With 4.3 million older workers engaged in job search it requires a tab more than what Dave identified.

    Steel trap fortification against the onslaught of age bias. Sure it’s illegal, but it is practiced and coded with a new dictionary like ‘small, smooth hands’ to the direct phrase, ‘We’re not hiring the elderly today.’ {Yeah!}

    If you are trying to re-enter the work force, every success in the effort and overcome discouragement at every turn. Keep positive and PUSH. I mean push very hard. It could come, but there are no guarantees.

    Keep it real and press forward like your mortgage depends on it, because it does.

  29. The thought of employment is my worst nightmare. I would have thought that anybody over 40 would have been desperate for self-employment. I have done a couple of consultancies “reporting” to younger people….never again. If I had had to lick and curtsy to them as an employee, I would have lasted days!

  30. You think over 40 is old ;)

    That’s barely middle aged!

  31. There are several positive factors to hiring older workers but often it’s the employer who overlooks this in an effort to get a ‘cheaper’ worker. There are job search sites out there that focus on matching up older workers with employers who are looking for that experience.

  32. Thanks for the advice. I’m a couple years short of 40, but the advice is great.

  33. UGH… do we have to work after 40? JK… I love what I do. With the economy the way it currently is, we have to do what we can ;)

  34. Funny, when I saw the title I assumed this post addressed the problem of being too young and inexperienced to get a job. I’m 41 now and I’ve noticed something interesting. After about 18 years of working as a developer, constantly learning new things, and solving problems with code day after day, I’ve gotten astonishingly good at it.

    Not only do I have more experience, but I’m actually smarter than I was at 20. Not faster, but definitely smarter. I think continued learning is the key. We’ll see how long it lasts.

  35. I personally know many people who have been let go in order for the company to hire younger people who get a lower salary. Many of them had to settle for a lower paying job to tide them over…but they are continuing to look to find what they want. It’s tough out there.

  36. I think Dave speaks from his heart and although I agree with many of his points and wisdom but I have to take exception that you need to dumb down your expectations or your credentials and take less to do more. Instead the older worker needs to have the attitude that he/she has so much more to offer the employer and the younger worker is the one who needs to toe the mark and try to compete with them. Attitude is a big part of the solution but at the same time being current in skills, knowledge and market savvy can also make or break the hiring process. It is tough for the 50+ job hunter but not impossible. Remember “illegitimi non carborundum”

  37. Good advise, having a positive attitude is the key.

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