I am 64 years old and have found myself in the position of having doors closed after the first interview. The usual answer received for a reason is “we found a more suitable candidate for the position.” I spoke with a recruiter about a position I had applied for and was told that although I was qualified for the position, I would not be put forth because the company was looking for someone they could groom into a more senior position. I do not want to get this recruiter in trouble for his honesty but would like to know how to counteract this type of attitude.
My sense is you feel age discrimination is haunting you and you don’t know how to escape it. The reality is that ageism does exist, as many types of discriminations do when hiring. What you need to do, however, is strategically plan how you are going to present yourself in an interview, discretely using age as an advantage to the employer.
Right now there is a declining work force. Thousands and thousands of people are retiring, taking with them years of institutional knowledge. This knowledge is not easily replaced by hiring someone with minimal job experience. Companies need extensive experience, one that an older worker brings. These seasoned workers can also come with a high level of commitment, standards and dedication to the job.
These key factors need to come across in the interview. You are not someone who is 64 and perhaps should retire. You are a highly experienced, extensive source of knowledge that would be an asset to the company. Play up your skills, and not just what you can do, but how you have applied them over your career to make a job, department or company successful. Bring these strengths to the front of the conversation and project the confident and seasoned worker that you are.
Further in the interview, talk about your mentoring, coaching and motivation experience you have had with colleagues in the workplace. Give yourself the advantage that younger workers do not have by recounting stories of how you have inspired co-workers to do better or helped a co-worker realize the potential they did not believe they had. Think back over your extensive career about the defining moments and use them in the interview to blow away the less-experienced competition.
In my coaching and outplacement practice, I have seen people of all ages get excellent jobs. It comes with hard work, but experience and knowledge go an extra distance if you proactively put them out there.
Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for Cam McRae Consulting , an outplacement and career coaching firm located in Calgary.
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