How To Avoid Age Discrimination When Applying For A Job

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Senior professionals shaking hands | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job | Featured

Looking for a job, securing an interview, and acing that interview are all very frustrating processes in themselves already. To add to that, a lot of people have to deal with ageism during the entire process.

Learn how to avoid age discrimination when applying for a job with our tips below.

RELATED: Ageism In The Workplace: Companies Breaking The Mold | Work & Purpose

11 Guaranteed Tips to Combat Ageism in Your Job Search

1. Stop Emphasizing Your Age

Pay attention resume | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

Click here to jump to the instructographic.

When applying for a job, the first thing you should prioritize is to make sure that you secure an interview with the company’s hiring manager. A lot of professionals are immediately removed from contention during the scanning process done by recruiters. Do not make this mistake.

When preparing your resume, try not to emphasize your age too much. Make sure to keep it updated and remove any specialized trainings you have completed in the past 10 years.

If you do manage to secure an interview, avoid saying things just to distract yourself from your nerves. Don’t say things like, “I’m old enough to be your father or mother,” even if it’s only as a joke.

2. Reframe Inappropriate Questions or Comments

Reframe difficult questions | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

It’s pretty common for inexperienced interviewers or recruiters to ask questions that are not legal. Some might not be aware that it is against the law to ask questions about a person’s age, while others intentionally ask them anyway simply to gather as much information as possible.

Questions like, “How old are you?” or “Are you planning on retiring soon?” are some examples of these age-probing questions. Instead of answering this directly, try to redirect with a statement like, “At this point in my career, I’m simply committed to working and maximizing my potential.”

If an interviewer tells you, for example, that they are looking for “younger minds,” rephrase their statement and say something like, “I think what you’re looking for is someone who has innovative thinking, and I believe I have ideas that could truly help this organization.”

Alternatively, you could also just answer with your age, but immediately follow it up with how this has given you experience and wisdom particularly when handling not just the highs of the industry, but especially the lows.

3. Connect with the Interviewer

Connect with interviewer | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

Starting an interview with warmth is a surefire way of endearing yourself to others and influencing them positively. With something as simple as a smile, you could begin establishing a connection with your interviewer.

Another way to do this is to use references younger people can relate to like popular shows on Netflix. You can also use humor to connect and show that you are fun and cool to work with.

Just try not to use self-deprecating humor or dated references like, “That was probably before your time.” It might feel uncomfortable for the other party.

4. Show Humility

Show humility | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

When learning how to avoid age discrimination when applying for a job, it is of utmost importance that one also learns how to demonstrate humility and get rid of the traditional hierarchical approach to doing business.

Younger generations have a more egalitarian approach when it comes to working. They give emphasis to skills that promote collaboration. As such, traits that signal hierarchical styles – such as a focus on titles and control – tend to be red flags for younger interviewers.

Try to show that despite being a few years ahead of most members of the team, you are more than willing to work with everybody. Instead of saying that you would like to “run a team,” tell them about your desire to “support the team.”

5. Demonstrate Your Curiosity

Demonstrate curiosity | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

During your interview, make sure you show that you are curious and driven to learn. Ask open-ended questions and listen actively so you can also respond with relevant answers.

Try to show that you want to understand what the organization needs, the unique challenges it needs to be addressed, and how you can add value. Additionally, emphasize that you are more than willing to accept criticisms and learn new skills along the way.

You may have the know-how that the organization needs, but it is always better to keep an open mind about new learnings. Do this not just to avoid ageism, but as a way for you to have personal growth as well.

RELATED: Overcoming Ageism In Organisations

6. Make Yourself Relevant

Stay relevant | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

One of the biggest benefits of being in your mid-to-late career stage is that you have a lot of practical experience than most younger candidates. If an interviewer really focuses on your age, then this is a good point to make.

While you do not want to talk extensively about all the years you have under your belt, you do want to highlight your accomplishments, honors, and areas of expertise. And again, remember to include that you are more than willing to learn new techniques and strategies, and also work with the team to share knowledge and techniques you yourself might have.

7. Lead with Energy

Energetic girl | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

Show the hiring managers that you are passionate and excited about the work you will be doing. One of the best answers to the question, “How to avoid age discrimination when applying for a job” is to show that you may have the wisdom of someone with a lot of experience, but you still have the energy of someone who is excited to do what he or she loves doing so.

Avoid calling out your years of experience. Sure, you might say that you’ve been doing this job for years, but again, go back to how it is still something that excites you every day.

8. Stay Positive

Stay positive | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

When it comes to job applications, you can never really tell why a company or a panel of interviewers decide to go another way. How other people react is already out of your control. What you do, however, is well within it.

Before the interview process, eliminate negative self-talk and beliefs. If you start your job hunt telling yourself that companies do not want to hire you, then they probably won’t.

During the interview process, try to adopt a positive mindset. If interviewers focus on your age, then turn it into a positive thing.

Aside from citing that your advanced age gives you more expertise, you can also talk about how it means you have more time for work since your kids are not that young anymore.

If the company decides to go another way, keep your chin up and just move forward. Maybe the next one is the job that’s for you.

9. Emphasize Your Ability to Work with Diverse Groups of People

Work with diversity | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

Most workplaces nowadays prioritize collaboration. As such, it is important to demonstrate your ability not just to work well with others, but to work with others who are of different backgrounds, beliefs, genders, geographies, and even levels of leadership.

Highlight your ability to work well with everyone, regardless of all the factors mentioned above.

10. Keep Yourself Updated on Technology and Trends

Learn new trends | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

One of the main reasons people stereotype professionals who are over 40 is because they assume that these individuals are not updated when it comes to trends and technology. And it’s not entirely their fault.

A lot of middle-aged professionals do not bother to keep up with emerging trends and technology. Do not allow this to be you.

Instead, make an effort to continuously learn and develop your skillset. This makes you competitive and more valuable in the job market. If necessary, try attending courses, trainings, or other certification programs as these will also show that you make an effort to keep up with the times.

11. Look the Part

Senior dressed young | How to avoid age discrimination when looking for a job

No, this doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a hoodie and some jogger pants. It does, however, mean that maybe it’s time for a wardrobe check.

You can get help with your wardrobe from younger members of your family. You can still look professional while maintaining an aura of freshness and enthusiasm about you.

Simple choices like getting a fresh set of work clothes, updating your hairstyle, and getting a neat haircut can all go a long way.

Here’s an instructographic guide. Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy instructographic for reference:

How To Avoid Age Discrimination When Applying For A Job edit

Ageism is one of the most common problems in the workplace. Learn exactly why it happens and what you can do to prevent it with this video courtesy of AtlanticLIVE:

Ageism does exist in many companies. During your job hunt, you might encounter this as well. Focus on what you can control and use the strategies listed above so you can successfully learn how to avoid age discrimination when applying for a job.


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