Age discrimination starts when you’re in your early 40s, and lasts for the rest of your life. If you’re 40+ and job hunting or in a job where you feel overlooked because of your age, arm yourself with the right information, training and attitude.
HOW TO FIGHT AGEISM AND WIN
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years old and older because of his or her age. This federal mandate applies to all companies with 20 or more employees in every aspect of the employment relationship. If you feel you are being treated unfairly because of your age, it may be a good idea to let your employer (or prospective employer) know that you are aware of your rights.
SHOW ENTHUSIASM AND AN UP-BEAT ENERGY LEVEL
The older you seem, the more an employer may worry about whether you’re winding down, or if you can still hit the ground running. Show enthusiasm for the job and communicate an expectation of spending a number of productive years in your job.
EMPHASIZE YOUR SKILLS
These days it’s very important to include a list of technical skills on your resume. The more you have— from Java to Final Cut Pro—the less important your age becomes. (By the way: Command of Microsoft Office is not a skill. It’s a given.) Decide how your skill set fits with the particular job you’re looking for. For example, if you want to work at an international organization and you speak more than one language, this can be very relevant. Soft skills matter, too. Flexibility, a solid work ethic, the ability to work well on a team—these are all valuable soft skills, and they are especially important in hiring (or promoting) managers. They lead to better workplace cohesion and can improve team morale.
CONSIDER USING A PROFESSIONAL RESUME WRITER
Your resume is your leave-behind that should add to and reinforce your verbal presentation. This means it has to look good and do a good job of selling the product—you. Consider putting together information about your experience, education, special interests and abilities, and then handing it all to someone who writes effective resumes for a living.
When first applying for a job, you should send a resume with a friendly, personal cover letter. This is where you can say subjective things about yourself, such as: “I’m a good communicator and was frequently called upon by my last supervisor to lead my team in meetings.” (Here, too, a professional resume writer can help.)
BE A LIFELONG LEARNER
In addition to knowing the latest and hottest tech tools, older workers can stay ahead by keeping up with new developments in their field. You can do this by attending training and workshops offered on the job and elsewhere. It’s important for your employer to understand that you’re willing to go through training to retain and gain knowledge and skills. This applies to employees of all ages, but older employees are more likely to suffer bad consequences if they appear to adverse to training.