3 Tips to Avoid Ageism in Your Job Search

It’s not easy to job search at any stage in life, but for older workers, it can feel like a long, drawn-out battle. Although discrimination based on age is prohibited, it’s no secret that companies can and do favor youth over maturity. Many older people find that they can’t even get their resumes reviewed, much less get an interview invitation or a job offer. Here are some tips to help you get your foot in the door and allow your experience and commitment shine through for prospective employers.

Make Your Resume Age-Proof

You’ve probably heard the most common resume tricks for older workers: don’t list dates and only include the last ten years of your employment history. However, some simple details can trip up even the most polished resume. Consider your email address, for example. If you’re still using a service like AOL or Hotmail, that’s as much of an “older person” flag as stating you graduated from college in the eighties. Get a Gmail account for business purposes. Another tip-off of age? Believe it or not, using double spaces after a period is a dead giveaway, as two spaces after a period are an outdated trend leftover from the typewriter age. Run your resume through a word processing program and replace all of them with single spaces—you’ll be glad you did.

Know How to Answer Age-Related Questions

Federal law makes it illegal to age-discriminate against anyone over 39, but that doesn’t mean that interviewers won’t try to get that number out of you by casual-seeming questions such as “When did you finish college?” or “Do you still see yourself working in ten years?” Of course, you don’t want to lie, but at the same time reinforce your qualifications and interest. Many people ignore traditional “retirement ages” and intend to keep working for as long as possible. If you enjoy what you do and have no plans to give it up anytime soon, let the interviewers know that upfront.

Stay Up to Speed on Technology

It’s not enough to keep abreast of current technology in your field–you need to be savvy about social media and general office apps as well. Maybe you’re not a twenty-something who spends his or her life on Instagram and WhatsApp, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how they work. Communicating through email and texts have given way to software such as the instant-messaging program Slack, and being able to navigate those—or perhaps, more importantly, being willing to learn—helps greatly to dispel the myth that older workers balk at acquiring new skills. Pay attention to particular programs mentioned in job descriptions, and make sure that you at least know what they do if you’re not familiar with them and express a desire to explore them further.

More and more employers realize the benefits that older workers bring to the table, such as experience, wisdom, reliability, and loyalty, so be confident that you have a lot to offer a potential employer. Keeping your skills sharp and showing enthusiasm for going in new directions will attract your next job no matter your age.