JOB SEARCH / APR. 25, 2014
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How to Avoid the Age Barrier When Searching For a Job

There are numerous factors that hinder one's ability to obtain employment; criminal record, lack of education or training, no means to transportation, or drug abuse. Another common barrier is the age of an applicant. Age differences have been known to influence hiring; both younger and older applicants. We'll take a look at both younger and older age groups to see how age plays a role in job searching. If you're aware of this barrier, you can approach it wisely.

Applicants Who Are 50+

They are many reasons that an individual who is over fifty would be seeking employment. Some of these reasons may be:

  • Recently divorced and need to support themselves.
  • A company that they've worked for has closed down or made cuts.
  • No longer have an interest in their career, and have decided to make a change.
  • Went back to school later in life (perhaps once all the kids have grown up). Once their education was completed, they were fifty or over. With their new education, they're seeking their dream job.

These are just some of the reasons that applicants of this age group would be eager to find employment. Regardless of the reason, some face discrimination due to their age. There was a new act that took effect in 2012, protecting individuals based on their age in the workplace. Unfortunately, age barriers still occur. Here are some tips to overcome the age barrier when searching for a job:

  1. Be Prepared: There are a lot of jobs that have a strict screening process. If you do not fit the requirements, you will be eliminated from the prospective hires. It is not uncommon for people to exclude their age on their application, and get an interview. That interview may be with someone who is the age of your son. They have been trained to screen applicants based on a number of factors. A major factor may very well be your experience level, this will mean greater compensation (which could hinder your chances). Be prepared for the questions that may be asked. Let the interviewer know that you're still highly energetic, with fresh ideas. Make sure you have an idea of what the main objections might be, that way you can combat them. 
  2. Be Confident: Make sure you let prospective employers know that you're the best fit for the job. Not only do you have the experience, you're driven and more motivated than ever. Make them feel like it would be unwise to pass over your application. If you are called for an interview, be confident in who you are and your abilities.
  3. Push Recent Accomplishments: Showcase your experience in the past ten years. It will show that you're still actively contributing ideas and actions. If you're new to the workforce, showcase highlights that you've achieved over the last 10-15 years. Perhaps you're applying to work in an art gallery. If you were a stay-at-home mom, be sure to let your potential employers know how you were heavily involved in art the past 10+ years. If you're knowledgeable regarding the subject matter, it will go a long way. Just make sure that your details are relevant and strong. Do not mention that you loved doing arts and crafts with your kids. Accentuate professional knowledge and skills. Maybe you have written a book regarding various art movements, or finished your undergrad in art history; mention these types of details. Age will not be an issue if you sell yourself as an expert. Make them feel like you're the perfect addition.
  4. Show That You're In Touch With Modern Technology: Without making it too obvious, let your potential employer knows that you're comfortable with social media and other modern networking platforms. Perhaps you can include an online portfolio that reflects your understanding and effective use of online resources. If you're unfamiliar with social media, there's no better time to learn than now. This is all about acquiring new, beneficial skills.

Don't let potential employers think that you're stuck in your ways. It is unfair to be categorized based on your age, but it's your job to overcome this. Adjust the minds of those who are hiring. If you believe strongly in yourself, they're more likely to believe in you as well.

Young and Inexperienced Applicants

It is not uncommon to graduate from your post-secondary institute and not find work. Many jobs will require 2-5 years experience. It is hard to get a job with no experience, and it's even harder to gain experience when you can't find a job. Yes, many companies are looking for young, fresh employees, but young people in their early twenties struggle to find work. Here some of the reasons that younger people can not find work:

  • Their lack of experience. Younger people tend to have little direct experience outside of their schooling or volunteer work. Although education and volunteer experience are great, sometimes it is simply not enough.
  • Thinking that a younger individual will not “fit in” with the older, matured staff. We all know that this is ridiculous. There many twenty year olds who are more focused and mature than a good portion of their older counterparts.
  • Misconceptions about how stable the employee will be. Many employers have the idea that most younger people will 'job hop'. They want more stable employees and believe that younger individuals will not provide this. Stereotypes can be crippling, and it's important to overcome stereotypes at any age.

As you can see, there are some major barriers in terms of finding employment for younger individuals. Here are some ways in which you can overcome these barriers:

  1. Do Your Research: Make sure you know exactly what a position entails and what it requires of you. Pull out all the stops. You need to make sure that you're providing all the information that is required of you. Don't stop at required information; it is your job to stand out. If you're applying at a marketing firm, look at some of their more recent projects. Show that you have a good understanding of what the company does. You may even see an aspect of the company that you could elevate. Respectfully submit some of your ideas; what you can bring to a specific project, or the company as a whole.
  2. Avoid Putting Your Age on Application if Possible: Due to discrimination, your age may cause the potential employer to discard your application before giving you a thorough chance. If asked, you don't need to lie about it. The key here; displaying your work, skills, and knowledge for what they are. If you have a strong application, it will speak for itself. This will get your potential employer interested. If they are interested in what you have to offer, age will be much less of an issue.
  3. Network: Build up a reputation for yourself. If you're into web design, make sure you're getting your skills out there. If you are not finding the experience you need, create it. Networking is a great way to build your contact list. Focus on people whom specialize in what you'd like to do. You never know who you'll come into contact with and how they can further your career. If nothing else, you may find some clients. This will allow you to add substantial work to your portfolio.
  4. Push For Change: If you have strong, solid ideas then believe in them. If you are confident and motivated, it will say a lot about your character. It's great to be able to adapt to change; even better to create positive changes. Show prospective employers that you have something great to offer. A mind that is always developing ideas, is a great asset to any company.

Your age is not something that you can change. However, you can change your approach and attitude in terms of job hunting. Whether you're new on the scene, or experienced in your years; do not let your age affect your job hunt. Be confident in who you are and what you offer. Your skills, knowledge and passion will speak for themselves. As long as you stay motivated and highly positive, someone will be lucky to hire you. 

 

Photo credit: PandoDaily

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