Striking Out Age Bias – Tips for 50+

Striking Out Age Bias – Tips for 50+

As with any bias it is both conscious and unconscious. Be it age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, education, career background, appearance. Biases don’t have  scientific empirical evidence for validation but spring mostly from illogical fear and prejudice.

And they manifest in both groups and individuals.  And lets be honest – we all have biases of some sort or type. Ask yourself what your biases are and why you have them ? And 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.

Job seekers, people made redundant and career transitioners are confronted with ageism at ridiculous levels in the hiring eco-system at most levels. But there are are some powerful tips to help strike out some of the nonsense. It 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.

Remember the definition of FEAR : False Evidence Appearing Real – lets strike it out

And striking out FEAR in others is a great place to start nipping ageism bias in the bud. Following are the 3 key pillars to try and strike out the nonsense from a candidates perspective : Mindset Shift – Personal Branding – Proactiveness vs Reactiveness

1.   MINDSET SHIFT

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 – 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 :

Real Reason for a Job Interview / Role Vacancy – 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.

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 biases that are wedded in illogical ageism fear :

  1. Relevant modern or transferrable 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.

“Confront and answer objections before they arise “

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

  1. Remember whatever your role, level or industry no one does exactly what you do in the exact same way you do it.
  2. 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.
  3. Make sure you have a powerful LinkedIn profile with a current great photograph.   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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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’.
  6. 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. .

  1. Network in person, on LinkedIn and other relevant social media. Don’t hide waiting – take a strategic marketing focus
  2. 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
  3. 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 – Go for it!

Sue Parker

<p>Sue Parker is the founder of CV Dynamix – Australia’s pioneer of human-voiced resumes and humanised job search coaching. After 11 years running a recruitment agency and many years prior in media and sales training Sue founded CV Dynamix in 2014 to offer clients a unique and powerful way to get interviews and land the jobs they wanted.</p>

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