Ageism: Of course it's real. But are you contributing to it?

I'm going to preface this post with the admission that I am over 40.

Do not shoot the messenger here. Because she's on your side. And she's no spring chicken, either.

(My doctor actually TOLD me this a couple of months ago. The nerve!)

My message for more mature job seekers ...

Ageism is real. Of course it is. Companies aren't supposed to discriminate according to age, and they may even think they're not doing it, but ... hiring managers make inferences and judgements about you based on what you present to them.

And if they think you're old and tired?

You're not moving on in the interview process.


So what the hell should you do about it?

Moaning and groaning about it won't get you anywhere. Well, it will get you more frustrated and depressed, but that's not really the goal here, right?

My vote is this: Strategize around it.

A few of my best tips for those who are struggling with a search you feel has age discrimination written all over it:

Your resume

  • Your college graduation date? Yank it.
  • "References available upon request"? Old school. Also yank.
  • Referring to yourself as one with 30 or 35+ years of experience? Will work against you.
  • One pager, written in Times New Roman using a Microsoft resume template? Dead giveaway. It's totally OK to have a 2-3 pager once you've got vast experience and wicked smarts.
  • Any marital or health stats? I will assume you're like 80+. Also yank.
  • Any non-vital experience (as in non-vital to the role you're pursuing in 2012) that's more than 20 years old? Yank yank yank.

Your appearance

  • Super gray or 1990 hair? Consider finding a stylist (or a friend) who knows current trends.
  • Outdated clothes, shoes, glasses, perfume? Again, I know it sounds jerky, but you've got to consider the impact it may be having on your job search. And adjust accordingly.
  • Do you look tired and worn down? More sleep, new skin care routine, more water, better diet might be in order.

How you go about the search

This is the biggie. Nothing dates a job seeker more than when they refuse to use social media for job search. I get that those of us born pre-1980 are not digital natives. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, blogs...? They aren't a natural second language to over 40 job seekers. But folks? These tools are fast becoming mandatory business tools. In our lifetimes, they won't be any LESS important or influential. Not by a long shot. 

Being current with social media will not only benefit your job search networking efforts ENORMOUSLY, they will position you as a current, capable business person; one who keeps up with technology and, thus, remains competitive. 

So what's it going to be? You want to be the aging person who sits around doing nothing but talk about every wrinkle and creak and malady that comes upon you as you age? Or would you rather marry your deep experience, maturity and bitchin' work ethic with a style and savvy befitting of the year 2012?

Screw my doctor and her commentary. I'm going with the latter.