Age discrimination in the job search process is more than about just age. The age barrier can be compounded by the image you project through your resume, your appearance and use or knowledge of technology – or lack thereof.
“In today’s competitive job market, it’s essential to appear as though
you’re the next big thing in your industry, even if you’re a seasoned job
seeker who’s been around the block and back again,” Sudy
Bharadwaj, co-founder and CEO of the job search platform Jackalope, tells eFinancialCareers.
Recruiters, career coaches and human resource specialists say older job seekers can improve their chances of finding work by sprucing up their image.
Here are some suggestions for an image makeover:
Become Technologically Savvy
“For older workers looking to find a position, the biggest hurdle to get
over is the perception that you are less technologically advanced than a
younger person,” says Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark
a site that marries online videos and video interviewing with
traditional online job boards. “This is clearly an unfair stereotype on the part of
employers, seeing as how tech savvy individuals come in all ages. However,
it’s still a stereotype you will want to dispel as early in the hiring
process as possible.
A great way to do that is to have an active presence on social media.”
Tolan suggests showing off your tech savvy by recording a video resume.
“Submitting a video resume along with your
traditional resume will show you are able to creatively problem solve and
think outside the box,” he says.
Sherry Mirshahi-Totten, a
career advancement coach, encourages job seekers to modernize their resumes by including links for online portfolios, personal blogs and personal Web sites that showcase their work. She also suggests that they consider including QR codes on their resumes.
Mind Your Language
Trying to show off your vast experience through a lengthy resume may actually hurt you.
“A phrase such as ‘seasoned professional’ can instantly make you seem older, and sometimes stating your years of experience can work against you if you aren't careful to phrase it properly,” says Mirshahi-Totten. “For instance, saying you have 20 years of experience in the technology industry isn't as strong as showcasing how you have stayed current with the most recent technology relevant to today.”
Bruce Hurwitz, president and CEO of
Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, an executive and career counseling firm, suggests beginning the resume with “selected accomplishments.”
“It's the difference between saying that you are great (the ‘Professional
Summary’) and showing it,” he says.
Dress and Act Contemporary
“Part of researching a job is learning the organization’s culture and dressing so that you look like you’ll fit in,” says Ronald Kaufman, an executive coach. “The other issue is about taking care of one’s health. Having energy, vitality and an aliveness is missing in so many candidates. They come in world weary, slovenly, moving with awkward effort and often with poor posture. Eating healthily, exercising regularly and showing up with a sparkle in the eye can be why someone gets hired versus someone else.”
Don’t Overdo It
“I actually had a bald candidate who came to my office having spray-painted his head black,” says Hurwitz. “This
was a number of years ago when there was an infomercial for "hair in a can"
to cover bald spots. He took it to an extreme and looked ridiculous. Of
course, very few people would go that far, but the point is, you have to
embrace your age, not hide from it. If you will, find your ‘inner Sean