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Avoiding Job Search Age Discrimination

My last article, “Busted, Age Discrimination Reveal” I gave two examples of reverse age discrimination. As a short refresher, I was working two searches for two different companies. In both case they selected the older more experienced people, over the younger candidates with less experience. These were both very senior level positions and even the younger candidates had 20+ years experience. The older candidates had 30+ years experience.

So if age discrimination is so wide spread, one has to ask themselves, “How could this happen in two completely different companies and for two completely different positions?”

Regardless of your viewpoint as to the extent of age discrimination what is clear there are a few things you can do to help minimize it.

I firmly believe there were two major contributing factors that came together:

  1. Position level: These were very senior positions and the two older candidates were not only highly qualified, but were not taking a step backwards. I am approached on almost a weekly basis by candidates claiming to be “qualified” for a search I’m doing. Yet, when I read their resume it is true they are qualified, however they are over-qualified. For example, a CFO willing to accept a Controller position, a VP Sales interested in a Sales Manager, a CEO interested in a VP level job. I’m not saying they couldn’t do the job I’m working to fill. In fact, most have done the job 5 or 10 years ago. Recruiters are looking for someone who has done the job 5 or 10 years ago. They were qualified 5 or 10 years ago. They aren’t qualified today.
  2. Presentation: In what I believe is one of the most important blog articles for candidates to not only understand, but to actively implement into their job search was, “The Three Most Important Words In A Job Search.” A job search is all about the presentation. At the end of the day, the one that makes the best presentation usually wins. Couple a great presentation with extraordinary experiences or qualifications and you have a winner every time. So then what is a great presentation. The most common complaint, feedback, comment or whatever else one wants to call it for those older candidates is, “They seem like they just want a place to ride out until they retire.” or “They come across as just needing a job.” Generally, due to a poor presentation. Some thoughts
    1. If you look old you will be discriminated against. I am not known for my tact and political correctness. Don’t kill the messenger. This is a fact like it or not. In our job search workbook we talk about the 4 A’s required to get a job. Appearance is one of them. These were given to me by a VP Human Resources at Rockwell. If you don’t know the 4 A’s or know them but aren’t doing them you can get them for free, just pay the $5 shipping charge. The candidates that were hired, no one knew their correct age. They all presented themselves extremely well.
    2. Energy/Enthusiasm. Too often candidates come across burned out, desperate or tired. Their body language even communicates this. The problem is most candidates think they can mask this. FEW CAN. So few that it would be inappropriate to assume you are one of the few. I know you all know this. However, demonstrating these during an interview is a completely different thing. So if you know this, “How are you demonstrating these?” “Have you tested your demonstration to a non-biased (i.e. not your spouse or neighbor) person?” If you haven’t tested this too ensure you are sending the right energy then you may have a problem. Again, everyone of the candidates hired, the hiring manager never questioned their energy or ifFree Articles, “they were just looking for a place to retire.”

Granted there are a lot of other things one can do to help reduce of discrimination. I’m not suggesting these are the only two. I’m just suggesting these are the two most common I encounter.

If you think you have been discriminated against then the best way to avoid this in the future is to ensure you don’t fall into one of these categories.

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