As with any bias it is both conscious and unconscious – be it age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, education, career background, industry sector, location, or appearance.
But the crazy thing about ageism bias is that everyone will grow older. So being a ‘disconnected ostrich’ (i.e. thinking it doesn’t and/or won’t apply to me) is laughable.
Wise up all generations. Both men and women who seek a new job or career transition are confronted with ageism at ridiculous levels across most industry and recruiter sectors.
However, there are some powerful tips to help strike out some of the nonsense. They won’t always be successful of course (it’s a long road to sensibility).
But one individual can change another individual and that can have a wider flow-on effect to others and throughout organisations.
1. Mindset shift
a) The first thing to do is change the way you approach the career and job process. The hiring eco-system tends to create a clear and mean-spirited power divide of ‘them’ (subservient candidates) and ‘us’ (almighty recruiter or hiring company). And this imbalance dis-empowers job seekers and keeps them in a ‘please hire me mindset’.
Changing your mindset from a pleading ‘I need a job – please look at me’ to a: ‘I am a valuable and skilled person who is exploring opportunities as an equal in the equation’ is key. The change of your internal and external chatter and energy will show in everything you communicate. In other words:
b) Real reason for a job interview/role vacancy –understand that the reason that a job is available is to solve problems and manage issues for the business. This is true of any role or industry or government department. Then look at the role and company and ask yourself – what issues do they face and the role needs to address and succeed in? Then ask yourself IF you can honestly solve those and contribute. If YES – then you have the basis of flipping the whole way you apply, respond and are interviewed. Hiring managers want to know IF someone can solve their pain points and issues.
c) Address objections of ageism bias before they arise. But beforehand you should have a little check in your own mirror. Do you need to upskill, improve your appearance, language, CV, LinkedIn, presentation skills? These questions are relevant for any age not just for the over 50’s. A large majority of people don’t know the best tips, tricks and methods to land a new job or change career- irrelevant of age.
There are 7 key ageism biases (conscious or unconscious) that are at play:
1. Relevant, modern and/or transferable skills
2. Technology, social media & digital capabilities
3. Salary expectations (the past doesn’t always predict future needs-desires)
4. Level of role (past roles may NOT be future needs-desires -people change)
5. Energy levels (physical fitness relevant to the job at hand)
6. Cultural fit (i.e. will you fit in with existing staff &/or clients?)
7. Alignment of values and visual brand (i.e.: conservative, mature, colourful, bold, academic, youthful, dynamic)
You need to address the biases in insightful narrative, demonstration in your CV, LinkedIn profile, phone and interview contact.
Confront and answer objections before they arise. Give comfort to the hiring manager/recruiter so they see your value up front and hiring you is a no brainer.
2. Personal branding and uvp’s
a)Remember whatever your role, level or industry no one does exactly what you do in the exact same way you do it.
b) Now show up and step up as the best version of yourself. Get very clear on your UVP (Unique Value Proposition). Own and share widely your achievements and how your skills can help solve the hiring companies problems. Don’t try and be someone you are not – be authentic and engaging.
c) Make sure you have a powerful LinkedIn profile with a current great photograph. Sell yourself as BRAND YOU. Remember you are treating the job hunt as a business development exercise and you are the brand. You are not a lowly meek job seeker who is compliant and frightened of rejection.
d) Outdated language – make sure your language and communication is current – nothing spells ‘out-of-date’ like using phrases that belong in decades past. i.e.: Personnel agencies are now called recruiters. Telephonists are now called receptionists.
e) Use powerful verbs, nouns and phrases in your CV, Linked IN and emails. Show don’t tell. No clichés, corporate waffle and generic nonsense that could apply to 100s of other candidates. Don’t state the obvious – show results and share stories. i.e.: a sales manager does not need to state they have ‘good communication skills’ or a graphic designer stating they are ‘creative’.
f) Consider investing in a career coach, personal branding or job search professional. There are lots of wonderful resources and videos online also which are free.
3. Be proactive vs reactive
As only circa 2 – 5% of applications to advertised roles result in landing a job you must stop relying on the deep dark tunnel of online job applications.
a) Network in person, on LinkedIn and other relevant social media. Don’t hide waiting – take a strategic marketing focus.
b) Get a personal business card (Elevator pitch, contact details, LinkedIn URL etc). – Vistaprint is super cheap. Hand them out everywhere – this makes a big difference to networks and your own self-esteem.
c) Proactive approach lists – Draw up a list of companies and people you would like to have a dialogue with re opportunities and THEIR problems and industry issues. Note these will NOT be companies who have advertising a role. Craft a clever email sharing your passion for their business and how your skills may help THEM. Rather than attach a CV (because remember you are not applying reactively to a advertised role) consider sending a one page marketing flyer of your skills. Then follow up with a phone call within five days. Don’t hide behind your keyboard.
About the author: Sue Parker is Australia’s leading humanised communications, personal branding, job search and career coach. She has changed 100’s of clients’ careers and SME business directions with coaching and tools that get strong quick results. Like to know more and book in for a free 10 min discovery call? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org (career) or email@example.com (business).