The employment outlook for the 50+ crowd is not inspiring at all. The nature of the workforce is structured for a lack of higher level positions being available within tradition companies. In addition, the salary requirements of more senior members of the workforce and stereotypes of being too set in ways/less energy/etc. tend to scare away would be employers. It is illegal to discriminate an applicant based on age, but good luck proving it. And since one cannot change his/her age, how can one make it harder for an employer to know your age when looking for a job?
Be sure your resume does not paint you as an old-timer! There is no law stating that you have to list every job you have held – let’s face it, anything older than 15 years probably does not apply to the position you are applying for. By eliminating job entries more than 15 years out (list a “Recent Experience” section on a resume) and graduation dates, you remove the ability for an employer to do some quick math to find your age. Also, drop the “References Available Upon Request” line, this is assumed by employers in today’s market.
Be careful about the language you use on the resume. Be sure the vocabulary you use is in line with the industry jargon. For example: ‘Recruiting’ is now ‘Talent Acquisition’, ‘Advertising Agency’ is being replaced by ‘Marketing & Communications’ firms, ‘Customer service’ is dated while ‘Client relationship’ is in, using ‘Online’ or ‘Internet’ how about ‘Digital’ or ‘Social Media’…be sure you word choice is not making you sound out-of-date.
Finally, contact information – no one includes fax numbers anymore. And consider updating your email address from the AOL to a gmail or an alumni one from your alma mater. Keep the email professional, a combination of first and last name or initials are recommended.
Ever run into someone that looks 15 years older than he really is? How about the reverse? Vastly different impressions. Time to start up the exercise routine and eat healthy – employers will underestimate your age if you present an energetic/healthy appearance. Also be aware of your hair color and fashion. Touching up some gray and updating your wardrobe can help give the impression of a younger candidate – or at least one that is staying current on trends. Just don’t overdo it, being 50+ with jet black hair or trying to pull off jeggings will do more harm than good.
Finally, facial hair – it works from some men but for many, beards and mustaches can make one look older. Consider cutting off the facial hair, or at least keeping it trimmed, head to a respected barber and ask for a style that best fits your facial style.
Is it fair that the 50+ crowd is discriminated against? NO! But not acknowledging it exists and doing nothing to counter the biases is a losing proposition. Try some of these strategies: exercise, update your wardrobe, eliminate some date sensitive information on your resume – and you may be able to avoid some of the biases against older workers.