Strategies to navigate career ageism

Ageism is a state of mind, assumption and bias that polarises everyone.   But there are many strategies to navigate career ageism as I share in this article.

You may have lost confidence  and/or struggling on the job search application mouse wheel. It can seem like a huge wastage of time? But you know the old saying from Einstein:  

“the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”

But there are ways to chip away at the ageism and entire job search hurdles by taking a  different approach and taking back control.

This year there will  there will be many new roles and opportunities that broaden the reach of applications. With companies struggling to fill many key roles there really is a HUGE opportunity to shine and bowl companies over with your brilliance and value.   

You deserve to feel valued and respected 

Truth is ageism exists and it’s total bullshit.  But like all biases, be it age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, education, career background, appearance etc – it’s illogical. It is wedded in assumptions. And we know that ASS is the front of assumptions.

You deserve to feel valued and respected and as a experienced executive and professional you have so much to give. You 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.

Everyone has biases & prejudices

And biases of any type rear their  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? And often people over 45 also have biases towards their own generation. And/or they can play into the stereotypes.

Feels weird – but 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 illogical levels.

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.

A shift of mindset is critical. Its about holding value in your age. DO NOT hide your age trying to appear decades younger. People will be annoyed if you infer  (in your CV, LinkedIn) to being in your 30’s or 40’s and in meeting they meet the person a decade or so older.

And the attitude to hide your history keeps the ageism beast in full motion. You never bring light to a situation by keeping it in the dark.

Sure you don’t need to put dates of your degrees in your CV and the last 20 years matters most. BUT dont discount the prior career just present it differently in most cases.

Remember that your value at any age rests with YOU and that:

“No one does exactly what you do in the same way you do it”

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 inner voice and feelings from a  ‘I need a job desperately – please look at me’ to a    ‘I am a valuable and skilled person who is exploring opportunities as an equal in the equation’ shifts the energy vibe.

The change of your internal and external chatter and energy will show and be taken across every thing you do and communicate.

b)  Review the  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. Sell your solutions (sizzle) vs skills (sausage).

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 up skill, improve your appearance, language, anything? These questions are relevant for any age not just for the over 45’s.

Hiring Stereotypes

In this TV interview with SKY’s Jaynie Seal I discuss the stereotypes across all ages and why its just nonsense to ASSume a age relates to skill or personality:

Illogical biases & assumptions 

The following 7 main illogical biases and assumptions can easily be debunked.

You should address these overt or covert biases in insightful powerful narrative. Demonstration to debunk them is essential by storytelling and examples on your CV, LinkedIn profile, phone and interview.

  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)

Personal Profile Marketing (Branding) 


1/   Whatever your role, level or industry no one does exactly what you do in the exact same way you do it.  Your profile marketing  encompasses the elements below which are communicated and shared.

2/  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.

3/   Outdated language – make sure your language and communication style 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. We all need adapt and change as the technology and processes transform. Keep up to date.

4/   Use power verbs, nouns and phrases in your CV, Linked IN and emails. Show don’t tell.  No cliches, corporate waffle and generic phrases that could apply to 100s of other candidates.

Read my blog Career clichés that make you look like a duck for more information.

Proactive vs Reactive Job Search 

As only circa 5% of applications to advertised roles result in landing a job you must stop relying on the deep dark tunnel of online job applications. .

i/   Network in person, on LinkedIn and other relevant social media. Don’t hide waiting – take a strategic marketing focus

ii/   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 advertised a role.


It is essential to have a LinkedIn profile that is unique, informative and inspiring. Take a marketing approach to talking about yourself. Note always written in the 1st person thanks with a reasonably current photograph.

Engaging and commenting on posts to show your value and skills is a powerful way to raise your career profile. Sharing articles of industry interest with your thoughts is also valuable.

Take time to look for posts where you can contribute from your bag of skills and experience.

But do please refrain from adding comments with complaints about ageist attitudes IF you are looking for a role. You want to prove how knowledgeable you are and why ageism is total nonsense by virtue of your contributions.

There of course many strategies which are based on individual professions and circumstances.

Like some individual support? Arrange a discovery call to see how my services cam help YOU  HERE

Read  How to Navigate the Hiring Robots   so your application is actually viewed


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