5 Steps to Help You Avoid Ageism and Modernize Your Job Search

Dave Martinez
Latest posts by Dave Martinez (see all)

It can be challenging for members of Generation X to accept that we are now considered  “older” workers. Recent worldwide events have changed the employee mindset and how people view work. Many workers in the Great Resignation realized they could improve work- life balance, find better salaries, and as a result, there has been a major shift to remote work. With all this positive change, there is still evidence that age discrimination/ageism is occurring.

According to an AARP survey about 1/3 of the American workforce is over the age of 50 and 91% of older adult workers have experienced or seen age discrimination in the workplace. Age discrimination is illegal, but many older job seekers will encounter it during their job search. Here are 5 steps that can help you to overcome these barriers and have success in your job search, no matter your age:

  1. 1.) Update your resume – If you are including an Objective Statement, it is time to look at more recent formats. Employers understand that your objective is to get the job; that is why you applied. Instead, start off with a Career Summary. This is a chance for you to highlight your skills and accomplishments that are relevant to the position and give hiring managers a reason to reach out to you for an interview. Make sure to include statements like “8+ years of experience in X & Y” with important skills highlighted directly from the job description.
  2. 2.) Update your email address – If you are using an @aol or @hotmail address, it’s time for an update. While those service providers are still perfectly fine for your personal communications, it is recommended that you utilize @gmail or @outlook addresses.
  3. 3.) Keep your resume relevant to the job you are applying to – It is not intended to be a complete listing of every job you have ever held. Showcase your relevant skills and accomplishments to the last 10-15 years. Remove the dates from your degrees. The fact that you have that education can be important, but you may not want a hiring manager thinking about what they were doing in 1997. Also, check the number of spaces you are using after the period in your sentences. Many of us learned to type on an actual typewriter which required you to double-space after the period in order to physically move the carriage and create space between sentences. Word processing software does that automatically, so you only need a single space now. While both are technically correct, using a double space not only looks odd to younger generations but it can also indicate that you are not flexible or willing to adapt to changes.
  4. 4.) Embrace and learn new technology systems, software, and processes – Attend virtual career fairs to increase your exposure. If you have been away from the workplace for a while or if your previous employer was using legacy software, you may find yourself puzzled over some of the terms in job postings. One way to get familiarized with new technology is to watch YouTube videos that explain how things work. Utilize platforms like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning to complete some of those courses. In addition to getting the information you need, other people can see that you are keeping current with the latest trends in the industry. Leverage LinkedIn jobs and networking in your search. Keep in mind, LinkedIn is intended for professional networking. This is not the place to share your opinion on the news or celebrity gossip. Every post you like, comment on or share can be seen on your profile.
  5. 5.) Become familiar with conducting virtual interviews – After you finish updating your resume,  you should start getting contacted for interviews. While major companies shifted to virtual interviews a few years ago, COVID accelerated that trend. Now even smaller organizations are conducting initial interviews in a virtual environment. It is important to prepare for interviews beforehand. Ensure you have access to the platform the employer is utilizing. A lot of companies will use Google Meet because the barriers to access are low. Don’t be surprised, however, if Zoom or Microsoft Teams is the platform of choice. Test out your system ahead of time, and make sure you can hear/speak and have a suitable background. On most video conference platforms, you can upload a background or utilize a pre-loaded setup, if you aren’t sure your living room is ready for display. Check out this short video on the 5 Tips for Video Interviews.

While ageism can add an additional level of difficulty to your job search, and it is important to be cognizant of it, remember that you possess traits that every employer desires. Older workers have desired leadership skills, bring varying perspectives and experiences and have strong networks that can potentially be leveraged. Rework your resume, brush up on technology and embrace interviewing from home!

Dave Martinez is the Area Manager, Mountain Region at Hire Heroes USA. Hire Heroes USA provides free job search assistance to U.S. military members, veterans and their spouses, and we help companies connect with opportunities to hire them. We have a proven track record of success helping over 75,000 veterans and military spouses get hired since the company was founded. The services never expire. Sign up today at www.hireheroesusa.org.