Ask an Expert: How Do I Eliminate Age Bias From My Job Search?

Age Bias Many readers frequently write in to express their concerns about being eliminated from an employer's consideration because of their age. And while I'm not denying that ageism exists, I think the real issue that hurts an older job seeker's chances is relevance.

If an older worker can't prove that they have kept up with technology and leading-edge concepts for their industry or job function, they will lose out to their younger counterparts that appear more "in the know." So how do you counter potential age bias and quickly show hiring managers that you are just as relevant as the next applicant? Here are a few suggestions.

Add your LinkedIn URL to your resume and create a LinkedIn strategy.

Placing your LinkedIn URL alongside your contact information on your resume shows employers you are using LinkedIn to network and be found. Adding the URL to your business card is a great way to say "here's my resume" without actually handing someone a copy. Including the URL gives the contact the option of learning more about you online, at their convenience. Check out I'm on LinkedIn... Now What??? to learn how to leverage LinkedIn for job search.

Get on Twitter and start having relevant online conversations with opinion leaders in your industry.

Acknowledging the power of Twitter and becoming an active user can help accelerate your job search and get you on the radar of decision makers in your industry. Spend a little bit of time lurking to see how others are using the tool and then jump in. To learn more about how Twitter can help you in your job search check out The Twitter Job Search Guide.

Attend a Tweet Up or a Meet Up.

Tweet Ups are live meetings where people who have connected on Twitter can meet in person. Meet Up is a site where you can find people in your geography who are interested in the same topics as you (both professional and personal) to arrange meeting in person in a group setting.

Take the time to learn something new.

If you've been a writer or editor for a traditional publication, learn how to use blogging software. If you are a mainframe computer specialist, learn a new technology. If you are a PR professional, learn how to manage social media communities to engage your audience. You get my drift. Figure out what is leading-edge for your industry and learn how to do it.

Lose phrases like "back in the day."

You will quickly turn off recruiters and hiring managers if you spend too much time focusing on what worked in the past. Back in the day, my mom could "take a letter" like nobody's business and push the return bar on her manual typewriter with speed and agility. But that's not really relevant in today's world, so why waste precious space on a resume or time during an interview referencing it?

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Gail E. Cooper

I happen to agree with many of the posters. There is a definite bias against workers over 40 regardless of how technologically savvy they may be. Many high level executives are under a great deal of pressure to deliver consistent increases in revenue and profits. The quickest way is to drastically reduce operating expenses in which personnel costs are usually the easiest target. Older workers are usually the "highest" paid due to seniority and their jobs will be eliminated and replaced with similar positions that pay substantially less. Younger hiring managers are extremely "paranoid" and "territorial". Older, more experienced applicants easily "intimidate" them. They feel much more comfortable with an "incompetent" as opposed to a "competent" employee because it makes them look much more "credible" to their bosses. Being "too well versed" in technology is very threatening to them. Needlessly complicating their tasks helps to ensure their "job security" and they want to be deemed by the "higher ups" as "indispensable". I strongly suspect the majority of those "so-called" jobs posted via Twitter are "marketing" related and the salaries are somewhat "over inflated". I've seen more "ponzi schemes" posted via the Internet than I can "shake a stick at". I substantially limit my exposure on social networks to avoid being inundated by this sort of crap. I really don't have the patience to interact with people online who are only "pretending" to be successful when, in fact, they're only trying to "scam" me and everybody else I know. As one of the earlier posters mentioned, "GREED IS RAMPANT" and you can't take everyone at "face value". Brainstorming with those you trust can yield some very insightful leads. Reconnecting with college alumni associations may also be helpful. Vetting fellow alums would be much easier. Networking within "legitimate" professional organizations always makes very good sense. It's much better to be "safe" than "sorry".

April 14 2011 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I find that I disagree with some of the people that posted comments. Although, I am a 50+ professional that has been looking for work I see no reason to be as equally agist in finding fault with Ms. Safani simply because she has not yet experienced what I have. Her article is valid in that it gives advice on how to work with the system and bias that exists. Unless you are willing to sue, as suggested by runehammer, you will have to deal with this. Though too many companies will reject an application outright due to your age alone, there are those out there that do not. Making blanket statements about everyone because of some bad experiences helps no one. I believe the reasons for age discrimination run the gamut from getting cheaper, younger workers to unfounded fears that older workers either can't keep up or will run up health insurance costs. It doesn't matter what the reason. I don't want to work for a company that actively practices age discrimination. It may reduce my opportunities, but the reward will be helping their competition surpass them.

April 13 2011 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is no merit in an article that guides people to hide their ages--since age discrimination is illegal. If everyone including the article writers reported their prior experiences in being mandated to age discriminate, or were aware of others who contributed to age discrimination, the problem would not be of this magnitude. I resent it when I read advice calling for me to play down my age. The government wants to increase retirement age even further. That's yet another pipe-dream !

April 12 2011 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ageism on jobs is the least acknowledged discriminatory practice. It is most often used as a control tool that can pit younger new hires (YNH) against older more experienced workers (EW) to force out workers who are paid more; rearrange the picking order; establish new loyalities; disengage workers from seats of real or preceived power, and quell perceived threats to existing power. It takes a special kind of leader to look at varying abilities, intelligence, creativity, energy , drive and interests and bring that all together for maximum good and productivity.

April 12 2011 at 12:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

As a career HR professional with 34 years experience, I am a laid-off senior manager who is now encountering age bias every time I apply. I can tell you without reservation: as someone said here already, suing for discrimination IS relevant. Look, my fellow Boomers, the facts are simple: hiring managers choose younger candidates because of bigotry, misconception, and a host of other reasons. You think the EEOC cares? Ha! All they have time for is Race-based claims. You think AARP cares? Ha! All they do is peddle insurance. However, follow the drill, file your claim, get a right-to-sue letter and GO for it. Be sure to save those rejection-slip emails for your file. If you are on the phone, tape-record the rejection call. Make a note every time a recruiter asks you, "What year did you graduate?"-- The obvious questions are amazing! Two weeks ago an SVP asked me in a face-to-face interview, "Shouldn't you be retired by now?" Say what?! If you are over 55, good luck. You'll need it. Oh, one last thing: call or write to your Congressman. Pitch a polite fit and demand to know why the government looks the other way when businesses discriminate against the Over 40’s. Ask for their help. Maybe, just maybe, one day someone will take up the Cause.

April 12 2011 at 12:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

A Must Read

April 12 2011 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
luanne garner

Babs here has forgotten an obvious suggestion. Don't put birthdate or age on your application. However see how far that gets your application. In todays economy it could possibly be about the health care issue
as Steve put in his comment. However, I believe it comes down to hiring younger people because companies can pay them less, especially if they are single. We older folks that have families do require more than minimum wage pay so we can support our families.

April 12 2011 at 11:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I have the same problem with age discrimination. I went to audition for some bands and I was rejected and they didn't even hear me sing first.

April 12 2011 at 11:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Age bias isn't about age. It's about health insurance, liability, potential lost days, etc. It has nothing to do with whether older can do a particular job.

Companies just don't want to health insure older Americans. They''re scared to death.

They don't seem to mind paying for endless pregnancies, employees' dopey drug abusing kids and psyco babble for YOUNG adults. But older adults ... forget it. They're not worth the expense.

When you have a thirty-something, gum cracking hottie incharge of an HR department do you think a sixty something is going to get hired? Not when she can hire an equally hot thirty something that won't represent a potential liability to the company! At least not until he cracks up his car on the way to work while in a drug crazed stupor.

April 12 2011 at 11:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

All the comments I've read are true. Ms. Safani is a young writer without experience. I'm a forensic accountant, former FBI Agent who is in better physical shape than 95% of these young workers. I have more energy, experience and up-to-date knowledge than my young competitors. Unfortunately, applications are required to be online now so nobody has the opportunity to actually meet me. Why? They have their computers programmed to send an auto "we're sorry" email minutes after receiving my application that requires age-identifying information. My last job was as a ball-picker/washer and grass mower (push mower) at a golf driving range. I was released because the owner wasn't making a profit (economy killing the golf industry). He said I was the best worker he had ever had. Now I'm trying to find work in forensic accounting again and I'm getting auto-rejected on every application. What a Country we now live in! What a shame! 60 really is the new 40 - unfortunately the 40 year old managers are really now the new 20s.

April 12 2011 at 11:16 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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