Ageism In Interviews
It can be daunting enough to have to find a new job no matter where you are in your career, but add ageism into the mix and finding a job can feel torturous. The good news is that you’re not alone – ageism in job interviews can happen to anyone of any age.
Maybe your resume reads perfectly, but when you enter the office the hiring manager sees you as “too young” to oversee a team, or “too old” to be a team player. No matter which way the ageism you experience swings, it’s upsetting.
In a perfect world, hiring managers and future bosses would concentrate on your resume, and your wins, rather than your age. However, there are ways to combat ageism in your future interviews.
Ageism in interviews can make a daunting task even scarier. The most important thing to remember is that if you are a hard worker, and let your personality shine through in your conversations with prospective companies and managers, you will have better luck throughout the interview process.
Ways to Interview Without Ageism Bias
Be Overly Honest
Don’t try to hide your age or your previous experience. Instead be overly honest about everything, and explain step-by-step how that will help in your next career move. Reveal why your years of experience matter in your industry, or the industry you are trying to make a leap into. Plus, reveal what you’ve learned that a younger worker won’t quite grasp yet. Make your years of experience the focal point of your resume and of your interviews.
Prove You Are A Team Player
Give specific scenarios in which you have worked with both younger and older co-workers. Reveal the specific ways in which you are a multi-generational team player. By being able to unite generations at work, you may render yourself a gem that can’t be forgotten.
It’s difficult for many employees to cast aside generational stereotypes, but it’s important to show that you can do that with ease. A hiring manager will think of this as a massive strength that may become more and more necessary within their organization as the topic of ageism becomes a bigger conversation around the world.
Showcase Your Personality
Let your true self shine. If you try to hide your likes and dislike you could come across as bland in your interviews. Instead, showcase who you truly are.
It’s important for a hiring manager to get a sense of your personality to determine if you will be a good fit for the company you are interviewing with. In fact, it is most often the case that a persons’ personality will win them the job they are going out for over their experience in the industry.
Often nowadays, an employees’ extra-curricular activities are looked at durning an interview as well. Do you have a start-up on the side? Do you volunteer on weekends? Are you a published author, or do you write for online publications? Similar to a college application, a job interview is becoming more about external ideas and experiences you can bring to the company you are applying to.
Get A Recommendation From Within The Company
Use social networking sites to reach out to someone at the company, and ask them to meet up for coffee before work one morning. This type of networking has proven extremely successful in getting people outside the company inside recommendations that help push them to the top of prospective employee lists. Not sure where to start? Ask if any of your connections have connections within the company you are about to reach out to. Chances are, someone knows someone who knows someone, and you will wind up having the right conversation with the right person soon enough.
Fight Ageism Within The Interview
Another way to fight ageism in interviews is to consciously work against the ageist stereotypes of the interviewer. If you can tell from their attitude or mannerisms that they think a certain way about your age – actively combat it.
If they keep asking leading questions about how you might not be able to work long hours because you have multiple years of experience under your belt, tell them stories about how you have always stayed as long as you need to to get your work done. If they seem to think you are too young to run a team, share stories about times you were a natural leader. Fight to get another interview, to prove their stereotypes about you are not the truth.
It might be your first instinct to ignore a hiring manager’s loaded questions, but it will be best for you to actively engage their concerns – otherwise the negative air between you will have no way of turning positive.
Bringing up ageism during this conversation may also be key in getting you a new role in your career. Hiring managers may appreciate hearing that you fight for what is right across generations at work, and that you’re not afraid to speak your mind about this topic. Instead of shying away from a conversation on ageism, bring the topic up. In fact, bring up any research you’ve done on the subject, and any ways that you are working to combat ageism in your own life, or how you have worked to fight it in previous companies you have worked within.
Ageism is becoming a more talked about conversation in the workplace, so bringing it up during the interview process would be a great place to get a feel for how the company you are speaking with feels about ageism, agist attitudes, and what they do to stop them within their company. If you can put yourself at the forefront of the agist fight at the company you are interviewing with, you may render yourself irreplaceable.
How To Create A Resume That Limits Ageism
You may have recently had job opportunities that were lost because of ageism stereotypes. If you’ve spoken with your peers about this, you’ll most likely have received lots of different advice – ranging from removing your college education from your resume, to taking your photo off of LinkedIn.
So, how do you create that perfect resume that is immune to ageism stereotypes? Unfortunately, ageism is rampant in our current workforce, but there are ways you can create a resume that is truthful, while also limiting ageism biases against you by hiring managers.
Start By Telling A Story
If you have the opportunity to submit a cover letter with your resume, take full advantage, and don’t rush. Separate yourself from the other job applicants by delving into detail about yourself, and your experiences that give you a leg-up on the competition.
Maybe you took your family on a tour around the world when your oldest graduated college, or maybe you are teaching your grandchildren coding as part of their homeschool curriculum.
Bring work traits into the story – these experiences prove that you are great at scheduling, trying new things, and managing teams of new talent.
Link Your Work Experiences Together
Just like you need to use your cover letter as an opportunity to tell a story, your job experiences need to have a story that makes sense too. While you may have done multiple different things for each position you’ve held, you need to pick a lane and organize your resume to suit.
If you pick the lane User Experience, make sure each item on your resume fits that box. Try not to jump around much by revealing everything you’ve ever done, or each program you’ve ever dabbled in. Instead, show what you specialize in, and what you’re so good at that you could do it with your eyes closed.
Companies want to train entry-level employees to do new things, but not everyone else. Show that you don’t need training, and you won’t be a huge cost of time and resources because you are a master of what you work in.
Add “Consultant” To Your Resume
Sometimes you need to give to get. By giving away some of your knowledge for free to companies, you will be able to add the title “consultant” to your resume.
What will that do for you? It might be able to take your interviews to another place. Hiring managers will skew questions more towards “mentorship” and “coaching” throughout your career, and more often avoid questions surrounding your specific work skillset or your years of experience.
Giving away your hard-earned knowledge for free can be challenging, however, you may be able to find a way that you are more comfortable with it. Perhaps there is a nonprofit looking for advice, or a company you really respect that wants your opinion.
You can reach out to companies with a cold call or email to see if they are interested in speaking with you about free consultation sessions. You could also reach out to your contacts on social media.
You could also take a more formal approach by sending a portfolio of your past work to companies, and show how your skillset has helped other organizations, as well as possible ways you may be able to help their specific company moving forward.
If you need advice on how to best get started, reach out to current consultants. You can find them on LinkedIn, and many will be happy to share their experiences to help you gain knowledge about consulting.
What To Wear For Each Interview
In situations like job interviews, a lot of emphasis is placed on appearance in addition to resume. That’s because we as a society have learned to make split-second judgements about people we meet.
While this is completely unacceptable, it’s hard to get around until it’s eliminated from our society. We suggest that there is a give and take. Sometimes you have to dress for the way you want to be immediately perceived in order to get the goal your going for.
That means that sometimes you may need to dress in a different way than your “norm.” Research the outfits that are currently working well for interviewees this year, or find out how current employees at the company you are meeting with dress.
Do keep in mind though, it is important to participate in this give and take situational dressing, but you also don’t want to lose yourself. Keep your funky ties or bright colored socks – they let your personality shine.