Has Ageism Affected You?

Jumping on the ageism bandwagon

I’ve been asked a lot lately about whether age discrimination is the reason that a person isn’t getting the jobs they apply for.

Anecdotally it is easy to jump on the ageism bandwagon. If an older person applies for a job, but they don’t even get to interview it is easy for them to presume that they were discarded because of age. If they are interviewed but are unsuccessful in obtaining the position it is again very easy to make the same presumption.

Is that definitely age discrimination? It feels good to blame that demon…The media often jumps to that conclusion so it must be right!  Age discrimination in the workforce is something that we all hear about often, and so most people will be sympathetic if you claim that is the reason you didn’t get a job you wanted.

What if the real reason was nothing at all to do with your age? Would that tell you a different story? Might you stop blaming your age and start looking at your job search strategies?

If ageism isn’t the problem, what is?

mature business manThe reasons why people don’t get jobs that they have applied for are complex at any age.  These five reasons are often far more damaging of job search success than any age discrimination, real or imagined.

1. It’s a numbers game

Let’s start with numbers.  If you apply for an advertised position chances are that you will be up against over 200 other candidates. Only one person is going to be successful if there is only one job.

2. Your personal marketing

Your resume has to show, concisely and effectively, that you already have relevant achievements, outstanding skills and enough experience to be extremely successful in this role.  They are looking for someone for this exact job.  Does your personal marketing, resume and LinkedIn profile in particular, match what they are looking for? Or have you given them grounds to discard your application for reasons other than ageism.

3. Your personality

We all have our own distinct ways of doing things.  I know it is a challenging thought, but you may not be the sort of person they wanted in that job.  It wouldn’t matter what you had done, if you aren’t the sort of person they want then they won’t want you.

4. Too much, too little or just right?

Recruiters are human.  So are interviewers. So are employers. Each have their own distinctive ideas about what constitutes a great candidate for a job.  The resume that one person loves may not appeal to another recruiter. Your style in an interview may be exactly what one interviewer wants, but another favours a different candidate.  You can only do what is true to you.

5. Reverse Ageism

Attitude shows on your face and in your body language.  If you believe that you deserve a job simply because you have been around for a long time then that attitude will show itself in some way.  I think of that as reverse ageism…People who believe they should be prefered because of their years of experience rather than their achievements.  Life just doesn’t work that way, and neither does recruitment.

6.  Showing your age

We aren’t discussing face creams and botox here, nor borrowing clothes from your ‘twenty-something” kids.  Age shows by not being contemporary in your skills and attitudes.  “I’m not very good with technology” is a statement that almost guarantees that you will not be taken seriously in a contemporary workplace.  Submitting a dated style of resume or dressing in an old-fashioned way immediately suggests that you will not have contemporary practices at work.

If you make the presumption that you will face age discrimination during your job search you are probably right.  If you put that aside and aim to be the best candidate for the job, regardless of age, you may be amazed at what you will achieve.

By Jenni Proctor



Jenni Proctor

Hi, I'm Jenni Proctor from Boomers Next Step. Remember when the formula for success in life was simply to strive for good marks at school, gain qualifications, get a great job, work hard and save for your retirement? Yes, I believed it too! For years my husband David and I wanted to develop a business that we could operate anywhere in the world, but both of us were educated to be employees.  We had entrepreneurial dreams and ideas, but still had employee mindsets. 14 years ago I took the giant leap!  I left my job in Education to start a business as a Career Counsellor and Coach, helping mature adults transition from one career path to another, and particularly from employment to entrepreneurship.  I had studied long and hard to gain new qualifications but sadly I hadn’t learnt how to market my new business. About 12 years ago we realized that we were not tracking well towards having the sort of retirement we wanted. We’d saved; we’d invested; and like so many other people we’d also lost some money along the way. It didn’t help that my business was not bringing in as much as I had been earning as an employee. Our dreams of extensive travel and helping our family were being replaced by a growing concern that we would outlive our savings. It seemed that a traditional retirement would not allow us to maintain the lifestyle we wanted. I love helping people plan the next phase of their lives, but we realized that was not going to be enough.  We needed a way to create an income stream that would pay for the travel and other lifestyle luxuries we wanted, that would provide mental stimulation, and would interest us both.

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