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Over 50 And Out Of Work: Beat The Age Barrier

February 27, 2011

Last year I went through the process of hiring staff to fill a few open positions. I was very specific in the advertisement and received about 200 responses. I met with 24 people who were qualified according to their resumes. There were several confidant candidates and it was heartbreaking  not to be able to hire everyone that was qualified. Finding a new job isn’t easy. It can be especially hard for people over age 50 because of age discrimination. Employers tend to believe younger candidates are more familiar with new technology, and they (think) can pay younger employees less.

Discrimination is generally subtle and not always deliberate, but the result is brutal. It takes people over age 50 nearly 40% longer to find new jobs as those under 35. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is intended to protect most people age 40 and older from discrimination in hiring, layoffs, salary, promotion, assignments and training. Victims of age discrimination can sue employers or prospective employers – but these cases are difficult to prove. The employer can say that the candidate simply wasn’t the best person for the job. The best strategy is to outsmart age discrimination. Here is how…

  • Confront technology-skills stereotypes head-on. When a 25-year-old applies for a job everyone assumes he/she has computer skills. When a 55-year-old applies, many assume he/she does not. Mention technological expertise during interviews. On your resume, list computer programs you know or any special certifications you may have.
  • Select appropriate companies and industries. If possible, visit the company to get a sense of its culture. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, look elsewhere. If you have been laid off from a youth-focused industry, emphasize your transferable skills or, if necessary, leave the industry. The technology, telecommunications and advertising sectors tend to favor younger hires.
  • Dress for success. Match the culture you’re hoping to join, but also look sharp. Clothes are only as good as the body wearing them. Get in shape. Managers want to hire people who look like they could run-and-win a race.
  • Show flexibility. A common stereotype holds that an older worker thinks his way s the only way to do things and that he won’t even consider new ideas. Design a resume that reflects a range of positions and changing responsibilities. This is important if you have worked for the same firm for many years.
  • Play the role of the “possibility thinker” in interviews. Mention a possible scenario, and run through the company’s options should it actually occur. When young people do this, they come off as loose cannons trying to fix things that aren’t broken. When older, more experienced people do it, they appear adaptable and innovative.
  • Don’t abbreviate your resume. Some older applicants include only their most recent experience. Let your resume run two or three pages, so long as each description is succinct and demonstrates your accomplishments. Don’t try to hide your age by withholding employment dates. Emphasize how your experience can help the firm deal with problems.

 Today so many people are out of work and with the recession of 2008 so many folks have lost their savings and retirements and needed to go back to work. This created an entire new age group within the workforce that continues to look for work. Let GAI (www.gunwel.com) help you strategize your next move. We can help you network as our client base envelopes a vast variety of industries. Call us at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit. Gunwel is here to help you with all things financial. See you soon!

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