The Question of Age: Part One

The question of age—I get asked about it all the time.

It comes in several forms from people in their 40s, 50s and 60s: How do I deal with my age when looking for a job? What is your take on ageism in the career search process? And other related questions.

It is a touchy subject, for sure.

Yes, age is an issue in the job search/career transition process, though not as much as people think.

Here are some thoughts on how to deal with it:

Drop all but the last 10 years of experience off your resume. Remove dates from your education, too. I often get asked, “But what if the most important accomplishments/work experiences/employers were more than 10 years ago?” If so, consider adding an Early Roles section to your resume that indicates a single line entry for the key earlier roles you’ve held, without dates.

Embrace the wisdom age brings.

The benefits of having been around the block  in your career give you on-the-ground experience and perspectives that younger candidates don’t have. Find ways to showcase that in a light way, and craft networking and interview responses that exemplify relevant things you’ve done and how you can contribute in a way that showcases that experience.

The trick is to edit your experience to be focused on what the potential employer/person will find most relevant to the challenges they are facing.

Get current technically…or at least, get smart about the gap.

If you are a bit rusty on your technology skills, bring yourself up to date. There are so many self-service classes that are accessible (Skillshare.com, CreativeLive.com, Udemy.com, Lynda.com, and others). There is no excuse for not getting basic understanding of the key technologies you will likely use on the job you are going for. If you are interviewing for a job where it lists that you need to know Salesforce or some other CRM and you don’t, go to the software’s website, read about the program and sign up for a demo or pilot so you can noodle around with it.

It’s important to know what people are talking about when they talk about technology, whether social media, cloud-based platforms, or other tech-topics.

If you learn best by talking to people, chat up people in your social circle about what they know about the programs you need to know. How do they keep current? What are the key features and functions? It is easier to keep up on this stuff than you think and than people make it out to be.

Have a professional headshot done.

I know this sounds superficial, but having a professional photo on LinkedIn is a must these days, regardless of your age. If you have one from 20 years ago or even a more recent shot that you are using on LinkedIn and elsewhere on the web that you don’t care for, invest in working with a photographer who can bring out your best. A NYU study said that people draw eleven conclusions about a person within seven seconds of meeting them. Imagine how much less time they take to draw those same conclusions online!

Make sure your photo doesn’t get you counted out for a role. When you are targeting an employer, check LinkedIn for others in similar roles to see how they dress and present themselves. That can give you a clue about what is required in terms of wardrobe and your look.

Having our career transition clients visit our photographer is an important early step in the process of creating the latest version of their professional selves. For more info on the Importance of a Phenomenal Photo, listen to my interview with our team photographer Nancy Rothstein.

Next week we’ll share part two of this important topic. Stay tuned!

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