Overcoming Age Bias in Your Job Search: Tips for Older and Younger Professionals
Employers today place a high value on diverse candidates who are up-to-date in their field, technically savvy, and ready to make an immediate impact. While employing an age-diverse workforce is a valuable asset, many companies disregard it. In fact, age discrimination is very common in the hiring process, with 90% of those who experience age discrimination noticing it regularly, says The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
A recent study of U.S. professionals over 40 found that ageism during the job search process takes place more than at work. According to respondents, 60% have experienced ageism during their search. Stereotypical views such as having “stale” skills or being change resistant, still exist for older professionals. This discrimination is currently impacting the trailing end of the Baby Boomer generation now, whose retirement financial planning included working well into their 60s. Faced with rampant layoffs and downsizing in their late 50s, many have not been able to find work since, due to ageism, and a financially sustainable retirement is now out of reach for many as a result.
While ageism is more prevalent among older professionals, young talent also faces it, says ApplicantOne. Young workers are also subjected to ageism due to their lack of experience, with companies not willing to invest time, money, or effort into their professional development. In a new Fast Company-Harris Poll, 36% of younger millennials and Gen Z say they’ve faced workplace ageism, often due to a perceived lack of experience.
To help address this age bias in the technology industry, Trilogy Education Services, a 2U Inc. brand, recently hosted a Tech Talk titled Overcoming Age Bias in Your Job Search. We’ve curated tips for you from the discussion to help you minimize age bias during your job search.
Tips For Minimizing Age Discrimination During a Job Search
In the job search process, the interview is among the most challenging aspects since hiring decisions are dependent on it. Ideally, hiring managers and potential managers will assess your resume based on your accomplishments and not your age. Despite this, there are a number of ways you can mitigate age discrimination during your interviews. Here’s what you can do as a job seeker.
Tips for Older Professionals
1. Make Your Resume Age-Neutral
When it comes to screening candidates for jobs, the resume is often the most important tool used by HR managers and recruiters — yet, they are also quite susceptible to bias. To mitigate potential issues, the Workforce Engagement team recommends making your resume as age-neutral as possible:
- Omit education or graduation dates
- Remove dated technologies or software
- Do not include your personal address
- Remove jobs older than ten years
- Create a LinkedIn Profile that complements your resume
2. Manage Your Online Presence:
Having an online presence is a way to prove to potential employers that you aren’t intimidated by technology, helping to dispel another stereotype about older workers. LinkedIn is a popular place for recruiters to seek out tech talent, and it’s also a great resource for determining the best contacts at companies you’re interested in. Making sure you have a well-crafted profile should be a top priority during your job search. Be sure to include a professional headshot, keyword-rich summary, professional experience description, and a strong headline.
3. Prepare for a Virtual Interview Process:
Video interviews are becoming increasingly prominent over in-person interviews. These are typically conducted over Zoom or Google Hangouts. If you’re invited to a virtual interview, treat it as you would an in-person meeting: dress accordingly, avoid interruptions, and check the webcam and microphone on your computer before the meeting. You should also avoid interview attire that might hint at your age. Researching the company and its culture is a good idea when selecting the best clothing for an interview.
4. The Right Company:
The reality is that not every organization is an ideal environment for older professionals. You may feel out of place as a senior professional in a young company. There are a number of sites that allow you to research companies, including GlassDoor, to see how past and current employees rate their employers based on different criteria, including attitudes toward older employees.
Tips for Younger Professionals
1. Showcase Your Skill Set:
Though age may play a role in influencing hiring decisions, employers are mostly concerned with an applicant’s skills more than anything, says Business Insider. Showcasing your portfolio can provide recruiters with a better idea of your abilities, as well as the range and depth of your work. In addition, look for endorsements from credible sources to highlight your skills. Finally, don’t forget to emphasize your soft skills, as well as your technical skills in your resume.
2. Cultivate Professional Relationships:
Cultivating relationships with older professionals in your field is a great way to establish respect and a positive reputation. You never know which relationships could lead to consideration for job opportunities. Connect with thought leaders and industry professionals through social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Become acquainted with people in your local area by following them on social media, and by participating in conversations.
3. Be Clear About Your Long-Term Goals:
According to data from Visier, younger workers are statistically twice as likely to leave their current jobs for better ones than their older counterparts. In today’s job market, employers are looking for skilled candidates who plan to work in an organization for the long term instead of changing jobs often. During an interview, you should convey your interest in long-term success with their organization.
4. Be Committed to Lifelong Learning:
Lifelong learning is essential to long-term success, given the rapid changes we are seeing in the cloud engineering field today. A recent D2L publication called The Future of Lifelong Learning suggests that 375 million workers across the global workforce may need to learn new skills by 2030. Even if you lack the relevant experience for a particular role, you can distinguish yourself by showing that you’re willing to learn and adapt.
For example, If you have completed or are considering a boot camp, you are already engaged in lifelong learning. Boot camp participants are driven by their innate curiosity to continue learning, expanding their skill sets, and sharing their new knowledge with employers. Want to learn more? Check out UT Austin Boot Camps and continue your lifelong learning journey.
Getting hired or advancing your career can be challenging in the face of age bias. While age discrimination is a problem in the field of technology, using the strategies we’ve discussed can help shift the focus to your potential contributions and the value you’ll bring while minimizing potential ageism hiring obstacles.
Want to tap into more industry insights? Our Career Engagement Network has partnered with 260+ employers to gain insights that we apply to our curricula to ensure our programs cover the most in-demand skills. Boot camp learners get access to those partners through exclusive networking events, recruiting webinars, and job referrals. Visit our Career Services page or speak with admissions to learn more about the career services available through UT Austin Boot Camps.