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Recruiters and hiring managers can hold stereotypes about older workers, so it’s about positioning yourself in a way that tackles those assumptions.skynesher/Getty Images

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Ask Women and Work

Question: I’m in my 50s, and I was laid off from a senior role in the travel/tourism industry during the pandemic. I’ve been trying to transition back into my industry in a role similar to what I had before, but I feel like my age is a hindrance. What can I do to improve my chances?

We asked Shena Mistry, career coach and founder, Own What’s Next, to tackle this one:

Age discrimination in hiring is illegal, but it is still very prevalent, and so it remains a concern for a lot of job seekers in their 50s and up.

If you’re applying for positions at the director level and above, it’s important to pay attention to the job description and let that guide how you customize your resumé. For example, some job descriptions mention the minimum number of years experience that are required, so only mention up to that number of years in your own career history. So if a job description says ‘eight to ten years experience,’ put in your summary that you have ‘ten-plus years’ rather than drawing attention to 25-plus years, because unfortunately that can be intimidating for a lot of employers.

There are so many stereotypes among recruiters and hiring managers: ‘They’ll be bored in the role. They won’t fit with the rest of the team. Their salary expectations will be too high. They won’t be technically savvy.’ So it’s about positioning yourself in a way that tackles those underlying assumptions.

At the same time, it’s important to own your experience and know your value, so that you can ideally end up at a place that values all that you bring to the table. In the application stage, that means showcasing your experience with leading teams, maybe noting that you have mentored junior colleagues. In an interview, mention how you can help upskill other members of the team. That’s an asset that you’re bringing; it can turn what may have been seen as a hindrance into something the company can use to their advantage.

Also, be sure to stay up to date with what’s happening in the industry. If you have a two- or three-year gap in the travel/tourism industry, I guarantee that it’s shifted during that time. What are some of the emerging issues since the pandemic? There may be different software or improved processes. Training programs could come into play; courses or certifications that can help you stay current with those industry developments.

Another strategy is to do your research and target companies that have a culture that values experience, diverse perspectives and different levels of expertise. Seek out companies that have a multigenerational work force.

One last strategy is to explore different types of work options. You’re looking for full-time, but would you consider consulting, part-time work, temporary positions or self-employment? Be open to thinking about alternative work arrangements, and that might offer some flexibility in order to get your foot in the door.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

This week’s must-read stories on women and work

These women moved countries to gain career opportunities and explore new markets

Gone are the days of decades-long service at just one company. Today, many Canadian women are moving abroad to seek career opportunities and explore new markets as entrepreneurs.

According to a 2022 Statistics Canada report, approximately four million Canadians lived abroad in 2016, representing roughly 11 per cent of the Canadian population.

Alesha Bailey, co-founder of Yard + Parish, an online retail shop for Black and African-owned lifestyle brands, moved from Toronto to Berlin, Germany, in June 2022 without ever visiting the country after finishing a degree in German Studies.

Ms. Bailey says that the move was a strategic decision based on creating a bridge to the European market.

“Germany has been one of our top locations for visitors to the Yard + Parish website,” she says. “With [Germany’s] proximity to the U.K., it showed a lot of promise as a hub for innovation in products for diverse audiences.”

Read how three women took the leap to another country for work and their advice on how to smooth the transition.

Feeling uncertain as a new leader? Eight ways to recalibrate for more confidence

Congratulations – you’ve been promoted. After years of excellence as a contributor, you are now a manager and a leader of others. No problem, you think. You’ve been doing this job for a while and know all the ins and outs of the work and can manage with your eyes closed. You’ve earned this role. And you can do it!

Wait. Barely into the new role and … something is changing. A feeling of being unsettled, unsure and maybe overwhelmed. This leadership thing is not what you expected. Managing people is hard. Confusing even. Am I cut out for this (you wonder)? Maybe I just don’t have it in me to be a leader (you second guess yourself)?

I’ve met (and coached) countless new leaders over the years who have expressed all kinds of angst and worry about their abilities when stepping into a new leadership role – either their first, or a higher level of leadership.

Read about eight ways to see yourself and your new role with a different mindset.

New grads face a challenging market for entry-level jobs

The graduating class of 2024 should expect to spend a little extra time applying for jobs compared with those who graduated in the past few years, as economists warn of a sluggish market for entry-level talent.

According to a study conducted by Royal Bank of Canada in January, roughly half of the 0.8 per cent uptick in unemployment since last April is attributed to students and new graduates. The report notes the conditions for young workers look similar to those typically seen during a recession.

“Youth have seen their employment decline since December of 2022,” says RBC economist Carrie Freestone, who co-authored the report. “In [the financial crisis of] 2008, roughly 10 per cent of the uptick in unemployment could be explained by students and new grads, and now it’s 50 per cent.”

Find out how new grads can increase their chances of landing that first position.

In case you missed it

Why are women still underrepresented in non-profit leadership?

When Kimberly Carson took on the role of CEO of Breast Cancer Canada, she became part of a select club – the minority of charitable and non-profit organizations in Canada headed up by female CEOs.

Despite the fact that women make up 85 per cent of non-profit support staff in Canada, they hold only 70 per cent of senior executive positions. And U.S. non-profit data organization Candid found that male leaders in the sector typically hold more power and resources than female leaders do, leading organizations with roughly twice as much revenue and getting paid 27 per cent more, on average.

Ms. Carson, who has been vocal about the leadership gender gap in the charitable sector (and wrote a master’s thesis on the topic), has spent her career working her way up through the ranks, starting as a co-ordinator in the events field. While she’s seeing more women reaching the executive and CEO level, she says the numbers still aren’t where they should be.

Read the full article.

From the archives

Microaggressions at work take a heavy toll: Exhaustion, humiliation, burnout

“It hurts.”

That’s what Amanda Uchendu says about being the target of microaggressions at work. As a Black woman working in Winnipeg, Ms. Uchendu says, “It’s hard being myself in the workplace without being judged or perceived as something I’m not. I simply would be myself, and people assumed I was mad about something.”

Despite repeatedly asking for learning and advancement opportunities within her organization, Ms. Uchendu says she’s been dismissed and ignored.

“I feel humiliated in my department,” she says. “My colleagues and friends have seen how I am being treated – they are telling me they want to train me and see me do well in this organization and to keep trying, but I’m tired. You can only beg so much to be given a chance, a fair chance.”

Read the full article.

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