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.