Are you a 50+ professional fighting career ageism? Have you lost confidence and had enough of the tunnel of job search application doom and wastage of time?
There are ways to knock this over with a different approach and taking back control to feel more valued and respected in the career search.
Truth is ageism exists and it’s total bullshit. But like all bias, be it age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, education, career background, appearance etc – it’s illogical. As an executive and professional you have SO SO much to give and should be proud and tackle this as you would with a business growth framework NOT a looking for a job mindset.
And we don’t even need to shine a light on the fact there is no scientific or empirical evidence for validation. Ageism bias simply springs from unfounded beliefs, notions, fear and prejudice. I will address the 7 key bias objections below – calling out the elephant in the room and bowling it over quickly and powerfully is key.
And bias of any type rears its ugly head in both groups and individuals. And lets be direct, we ALL have biases of some sort or type. When knocking over ageism bias its first important to ask yourself what your biases are and why you have them? Feels weird – bit you do have them don’t you. So you can start to break them down in others when you understand you have yours too (albeit buried deep down which no one hears but you if you are honest)
The crazy thing about ageism bias is that everyone will get older. So being a ‘disconnected ostrich’ (ie thinking it doesn’t &/or won’t apply to me) is laughable. Wise up all generations.
Whether you are a mature job seeker, have been made redundant or seeking a career transition you will be often confronted with ageism at ridiculous levels. And hey even as business owners the bias beast raises its head many times. But there are are some powerful tips to help bowl out some of the nonsense. They wont always be successful, but one individual can change another individual and that can have a wider flow on effect to others and groups within an organisation. The real issue to remember is for many who are padlocked in a cage of age bias (read recruiters, hiring managers, organisations ) that : FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real
And bowling out out FEAR in others is a great place to start nipping ageism bias in the bud. Following are the key pillars to strike out the nonsense from a business or job seekers perspective : Mindset Shift – Personal Branding – Proactiveness vs Reactiveness
1. MINDSET SHIFT
a) The first thing to do is change the way you approach the career and job process The hiring eco-system tends to create a clear and mean spirited power divide of ‘them’ (subservient candidates) and ‘us’ (almighty recruiter or hiring company). And this imbalance dis-empowers job seekers and keeps them in a ‘please hire me mindset’.
Changing your mindset from a pleading ‘I need a job or deal – please look at me’ to a : ‘I am a valuable and skilled person who is exploring opportunities as an equal in the equation’ is. key. The change of your internal and external chatter and energy will show in every thing you communicate. In other words :
b) Real Reason for a Job Interview / Business Gap – understand that the reason that a job is available is to solve problems and manage issues for the business. This is true of any role or industry or government department. Then look at the role and company and ask yourself – what issues do they face and the role needs to address and succeed in? Then ask yourself IF you can honestly solve those and contribute. If YES – then you have the basis of flipping the whole way you apply, respond and are interviewed. Hiring managers want to know IF someone can solve their pain points and issues.
c) Address the unspoken objections of ageism bias before they arise. But beforehand you should have a good check in the mirror first. Do you need to upskill, improve your appearance, language, anything? These questions are relevant for any age not just for the over 50’s.
There are key 7 key ageism biases that need to be addressed
1/ Relevant modern or transferable skills
2/ Technology, social media & digital capabilities
3/ Salary expectations
4/ Level of role (compared to career history)
5/ Energy levels
6/ Cultural fit (i.e. will you fit in with colleagues &/or clients)
7/ Alignment of values and visual brand (ie: conservative, mature, colourful, bold, academic, youthful, dynamic)
You need to address the biases in insightful narrative, demonstration in your CV, LinkedIn profile, phone and interview contact. You must directly
“Confront & answer objections before they arise & call the elephant out in the room”
Give comfort to the hiring manager/recruiter so they see your value up front. Remember bias is often wedded in FEAR (albeit illogical)
2. PERSONAL BRANDING & UVPs
a) Remember whatever your role, level or industry no one does exactly what you do in the exact same way you do it. Your personal brand needs to be communicated with value.
b) Now show up and step up as the best version of yourself. Get very clear on your UVP (Unique Value Proposition). Own and share widely your achievements and how your skills can help solve the hiring companies problems. Don’t try and be someone you are not – be authentic and engaging.
c) Make sure you have a powerful LinkedIn profile. Sell yourself as BRAND YOU. Remember you are treating the job hunt as a business development exercise and you are the brand. You are not a lowly meek job seeker who is compliant and frightened of rejection.
d) Outdated language – make sure your language and communication is current – nothing spells ‘ out of date’ like using phrases that belong in decades past. ie: Personnel agencies are now called recruiters. Telephonists are now called receptionists.
e) Use powerful verbs, nouns and phrases in your CV, Linked IN and emails. Show don’t tell. No clichés, corporate waffle and generic nonsense that could apply to 100s of other candidates. Don’t state the obvious – show results and share stories. ie: a sales manager does not need to state they have ‘good communication skills’ or a graphic designer stating they are ‘creative’.
f) Consider investing in a career coach, personal branding or job search professional. There are lots of wonderful resources and videos online also which are free.
3. Be PROACTIVE vs REACTIVE
As only circa 2 – 5% of applications to advertised roles result in landing a job you must stop relying on the deep dark tunnel of online job applications. .
a) Network in person, on LinkedIn and other relevant social media. Don’t hide waiting – take a strategic marketing focus
b) Get a personal business card (Elevator pitch, contact details, LinkedIn URL etc). – Vistaprint are super cheap. Hand them out everywhere – this makes a big difference to networks and your own self esteem
c) Proactive Approach Lists – Draw up a list of companies and people you would like to have a dialogue with re opportunities and THEIR problems and industry issues. Note these will NOT be companies who have advertising a role. Craft a clever email sharing your passion for their business and how your skills may help THEM. Rather than attach a CV (because remember you are not applying reactively to a advertised role) consider sending a 1 page Marketing Flyer of your skills. Then follow up with a phone call within 5 days. Don’t hide behind your keyboard.
Ageism is a reality but we can & should strike it out at every opportunity – Be different, do different, feel different over 50.