Can Ageism Be Positive When Returning To The Workplace

Most information about ageism shares that the bias itself is damaging to individuals both in society and in the workplace, but can ageism ever be positive? Can good things come from ageism and age biases?

The definition of ageism is treating individuals differently based on their age, or perceived age. While most age bias results in negative connotations, we do see a positive come from age stereotypes – we’re seeing that this age-bias is what leads more advanced-aged individuals to become mentors. Ageism comes into play in mentoring scenarios with older individuals being perceived as more knowledgeable, especially in work-mentorship roles.

Can Ageism Be Positive When Returning To The Workplace

While many older individuals are currently faced with difficult times getting back into the workplace, and dealing with ageism biases as they send resumes to multiple organizations, can the age bias they are facing be used in a positive way?

Ageism is detrimental, but it’s important to realize it’s still there. Until we are able to fight ageism out of society, we must work within the confines it creates, and create positive situations out of negative stereotypes. While one solution is altering the amount of years that show on our resume, and downplaying the amount of work experiences we have had, we can also up-play those years and experiences, but how?

You can use the positive bias of older individuals having more knowledge, being better picks for mentors, as a way to make your amount of time in the workplace come across in a positive light on your resume. Craft cover letters that detail how willing you are to train younger employees, to share your large amount of knowledge from your career company-wide. Show that you are willing to bring more to the company than just your skill-set – you will bring training, mentorship, and growth to many.

How do you display your ability to mentor on your resume?

Start with mentioning mentoring in your cover letter
Don’t make the hiring manager wait until your resume to see your ability to mentor, share it right upfront in any cover letter you provide. Getting straight to positive situations your advanced years in the workplace can bring to the table will help eliminate negative age-bias as the hiring manager progresses through what you’ve submitted. Take hold of the narrative from the first sentence, show you are an asset right away – not just for your skills, but for your ability to up-skill, mentor and lead others.

Share mentorship examples in your resume
Just mentioning that you can mentor is a small piece of the puzzle, you have to bring the story to life through specific examples. For each role you’ve had in your career, make sure there is a line about how you mentored at that specific company, and what the result of that mentorship was. Did you help a co-worker level-up in their career, did you help a job get done faster because you shared important knowledge that no one else had?

Have extracurricular mentor activities on your resume
For some roles it may not be enough to simply mentor on-the-fly. You may need to prove that you mentor outside of work, or maybe you are involved in a company mentoring initiative. The more you can harp on being a role model for younger generations in the office, the more you will come across on your resume as an important asset for the hiring manager and the company as a whole.

Ageism Educational Resources

What is Ageism?

Ageism In The Workplace

Reverse Ageism At Work

Ageism Stereotypes

Ageism In Interviews

Ageism In Sports

Ageism In Society