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Career Focus

Ageism or Attitude? Job Search Tips

By LISA TRUDEL - June 7 2013

Are you a job seeker over the age of 45 who suspects that age is the barrier to your employment success? Are you a job seeker who has been unemployed for more than six months and suspects that your barrier to employment is the attitude towards the gap on your resume?

Whether you suspect ageism or attitude, looking for work can be the hardest job you will ever have and whether your barriers are real or perceived, you might need to find new ways to convince an employer to interview you and then to hire you.

Begin by deciding whether it is ageism or attitude that is your obstacle, or both.

If you think it is age discrimination that is preventing you from getting the job, the reality is that despite employment discrimination being illegal, some employers perceive mature workers with more than 20 years experience as more expensive to hire, as overqualified, or as not being current with social media skills.

If you think it is the fact that you have not worked in more than 6 months and your resume exposes this gap, the reality is that some hiring managers might judge you due to an attitude around long-term unemployment.

According to an article on April 27, 2013 in the Toronto Star by business columnist David Olive, “Studies show that prospective employers casting their eyes over a resume look first to see how long the job applicant has been out of work. And if it’s more than 5 or 6 months, they’ll grant an interview instead to a less qualified applicant who has only recently lost a job.”

If this harsh fact is really true, it’s a sad reflection on today’s’ hiring practices, yet it does not have to stop you from job searching and achieving the job you need. You might not be able to change the hiring habits of some employers and human resources departments, but you can infuse your job search approach with the following tips which focus on the issues of ageism or attitude.

Raise your self-promotion. Build an online presence on social media sites including www.linkedin.com.

Revisit your online brand. Try “Googling” yourself to see what appears. It might be time to update your online image. Revise your applications. If you haven’t been getting job interviews, it might be time to adjust your applications. Since applications are seldom initially read by people anymore and instead are read by resume scanners and screeners, improve your chances by targeting and customizing every cover letter and resume you send. Keep your cover letter to one page and your resume to two pages, for a total of a 3-page application.

Review your email address. Is your email address inappropriate or does it contain the year you were born or your age? If your email address is “lovelyold-gal-from-1957” it might be time to create a more professional address.

Re-examine the dates on your resume. Be sure to keep recent work history dates on your resume, but if they go further back more than 10 or 15 years, you might want to cluster this part of your work history together and title a new section “Previous Employment” or “Additional Work History” without the dates. For your education section, the dates are optional. It is important to note that after your application passes the initial resume scanner, a person will be reading it but they might not have been born until 1990, so be careful about aging yourself by listing the 1980’s and definitely not the 1970’s.

Refresh your skill sets and delete gaps on your resume. This can be achieved by listing volunteer work that is relevant to your objective, committee work you are active in, current professional development and even by adding selfdirected learning such as appropriate online lectures and TED talks you have listened to and learned from at www.ted.com

Recharge your job search methods. Put the majority of your job search time into networking not only applying to job ads. Over and over again, statistics state that most employers interview people who have been personally referred, not strangers who answered their job advertisements.

Reconsider the ageism factor. In some occupations you can be considered “too old” in your early 40’s and sometimes even in your 30’s depending on the company and the industry; thus be sure to age-proof your resume, maximize your chances by networking and building alliances through informational meetings and volunteer work, and promoting yourself as technologically current by mentioning your social media skills.

Re-evaluate the myths and truths of older workers. If you are over 45, at your next job interview be confident knowing that statistics have proven that a mature worker brings a lower turnover rate than younger workers, are generally more loyal to the company, has a lower absenteeism rate than younger workers, and most of all brings a wealth of experience to the table.

Whether you are worried about ageism or attitudes toward employment gaps, learn more about how to job search successfully by visiting www.tcet.com and consider meeting with a Career Specialist who can help coach you through your next steps. It isn’t just an athlete who benefits from a coach; a job seeker can profit from a coach too!

Lisa Trudel is a Career Specialist with the Centre for Education & Training. She can be contacted at: ltrudel@tcet.com


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