The unfortunate truth of today’s job searching climate is that applying for jobs is competitive – very competitive. Employers can be picky about who they hire and how much they’re willing to pay. For many job seekers over 50, the search process is a longer, harder road than they remember from years past.
Many companies view an older employee as a big risk. They’re typically more expensive, and more likely to quit since they’re creeping up on retirement. An older applicant may be looked at as less flexible, and behind the times when it comes to technology.
I’ve worked with many clients who share the same story. They want to switch jobs, but they feel trapped. They’re certain another company won’t take a risk to hire them. The interesting thing is, the age someone guesses you as is largely determined by signals you send and have control over.
If you’re facing this dilemma, start by taking a long look in the mirror. Ensure that your hairstyle and makeup are still current. Consider a visit to your dentist to whiten your teeth if they’re stained from coffee and tea. If your glasses are old, consider a new pair or switching to contacts.
Evaluate your interview attire. If your shoes are scuffed, purchase one new pair you only wear to interviews. The same goes for a business suit. If your suits are outdated, consider purchasing one new suit. If you meet with the same company multiple times, change your shirt and tie or jewelry instead of buying an entirely new wardrobe.
Next, evaluate your technology. If you’re using an outdated flip phone, or an old brick phone with those keys that stick out, it’s time to see your mobile carrier. Upgrade to one of the many smartphones that are available like an Android or an iPhone. Consider signing up for and participating in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. If you’re using an old email address, it’s time to sign-up for a free Gmail account. If you’re not sure whether or not your email is outdated, think of how long you’ve had it and where it came from. If you’ve had it more than 10 years, and it ends in your Internet service provider’s name, you could be at risk.
Last, clean up your resume. Remove positions from the beginning of your career that are no longer relevant to what you do today. Do not include your high school at all, and keep any college related activities to a bare minimum. It’s no longer relevant that you were the president of the college chess team. You can even consider removing your college graduation year from your resume. It’s much harder to guess your age if you don’t provide the year you entered school.
Start with these simple tips, and you’ll quickly find that you shave years off your appearance and your resume. Although you can’t eliminate age discrimination altogether, you certainly can reduce the likelihood that it significantly impacts your search.
Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).