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7 ways to mitigate age discrimination in your job search

Sharon Florentine | May 29, 2015
Age is just a number -- but it's a number that can hurt your ability to land a great job in the IT industry, where youth is equated to innovation, efficiency and success. Here's how to make your age an advantage, not a deterrent

It's easy to lose perspective as we age, and become so comfortable with our own status quo that we don't understand how our appearance can work against us, Myers says, especially in a job search. While you shouldn't go too far to the other end of the spectrum and wear clothing or a hairstyle that's too young for you, make sure you're stylish and age appropriate; otherwise, you'll be rejected before you even begin, he says.

Leverage technology skills and stay current

Now that appearance is taken care of, make sure you're also current on technology and skills needed in the current workforce, says Myers. Employers are much more likely to hire mature workers who can demonstrate strong computer skills and possess a demonstrated comfort level with technology. If your technology skills are lacking, now is the time to get additional training, he says.

"When you walk into an interview and you're over 50-years-old, it's automatically assumed that you don't have tech skills. Your first job is to dispel that myth. You're guilty until proven innocent, so you better have the killer skills that will put those concerns to rest, immediately," says Myers.

Even as a digital immigrant, not a native, take advantage of tutoring, classes and training that can boost the skills you already have or add new ones to your repertoire. Especially in technology, there's no excuse for not knowing and understanding topics and skills that are relevant to your work.

"As an older person, you must emphasize your accomplishments as a way to highlight your technology skills and business knowledge. Businesses who are hiring want to know if you can make them money or save them money, and if you can do that by leveraging technology, they'll want to hire you," says Rick Gillis, a career coach, author and speaker.

The future of the IT job market lies in the newest generation to enter the workforce, so make sure you're at least familiar with the types of technologies they're using, says Gillis.

"I'm always disturbed when I talk to clients who are 50 and older who're looking for a job but aren't spending time studying, learning and adding new IT skills to their portfolio," Gillis says. "I don't care if you have to hire your teenage grandkid to help you -- you need to keep up," he says.

Shift the paradigm

Stop thinking of a job as simply a nine-to-five, work-in-an-office-Monday-through-Friday pursuit, says Myers. In today's world, there are many more opportunities to pursue a temporary, part-time or contract position, and your age and accumulated knowledge and wisdom could be key to a lucrative consulting gig. Volunteering, providing pro bono work, taking on a consulting contract or completing an internship or apprenticeship are all great ways to show potential full-time employers that you've been engaged and productive, even during periods of unemployment.


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