5 Ways to Overcome Age Discrimination During Your Job Search

middle-aged woman sitting across from interviewers and looking nervous

Are you a life sciences professional over 40? If so, have you noticed differences in how you’re treated by recruiters and hiring managers during your job search? A recent BioSpace poll revealed that many professionals have dealt with age discrimination when trying to make a career transition. Some respondents specifically stated that it seems like “no one wants to hire a person over 40.” Other people indicated that geographic location can also be a factor, in relation to age. Silicon Valley in northern California was highlighted as a place where some suspect that they’ve been discriminated against based on their age.

It can be extremely frustrating when you’re dedicated to a job search and it seems like circumstances beyond your control are against you. Unfortunately, some organizations are biased towards younger workers, so they can pay them less. If you’re interviewing with a company like that, you could be doing yourself a favor by noticing subtle clues, so you don’t waste your time with a low-ball salary offer. Here are five ways to overcome age discrimination during your job search!

Don’t draw attention to your age

This may sound obvious, but many people don’t even realize how they’re emphasizing their age prior to an interview. Remove any graduation dates or years you received specialized training that are over 10 years ago from your resume or social media profiles. This could allow someone like a recruiter to eliminate you prior to an interview. Ideally, you want to give yourself the best chance to secure an interview with the hiring manager. Some professionals are removed from contention in the scanning process prematurely by recruiters who are not the final decision maker.

Click to search for life sciences jobs

Stay current on trends and technology

One of the reasons some people stereotype professionals over 40 is because they assume that older workers aren’t current or knowledgeable of the latest industry trends and technology. If you are middle-aged, it's important for you to continue learning and developing your skill set. This makes you more competitive in the job market and more valuable in the workplace. Think about what additional training, courses, or certifications you can attain to help you stand out from other candidates.

Don’t directly answer illegal questions

It isn’t uncommon for an inexperienced recruiter or interviewer to ask illegal questions. Some of them are simply unaware that it is against the law to ask certain questions about age, and others know the law but ask anyway in an attempt to gather as much information as possible. “How old are you?” is an example of an illegal question. “Are you planning to retire soon?” is another example. Instead of directly answering illegal questions you can redirect with a statement such as, “I’m committed to working and reaching my full potential at this point in my career.” Another alternative, (which might seem forward) is to ask a clarifying question like, “Can you explain to me how this question and my answer are relevant to my ability to do the job?”

Focus on your experience

One of the main benefits of being a mid- or late-career professional is that you have more practical experience (and possibly technical knowledge) than younger candidates. While you don’t want to ramble on and on about your years of experience (that points back to drawing attention to your age), you do want to highlight your key areas of expertise, accomplishments, and honors. Mentioning a few of your beneficial contributions, loyalty, and achievements can help make you more memorable and appear to be a safer bet than some younger candidates.

Remain positive

It is a reality that you might experience age discrimination. Often, you never really know why a company decides to move in another direction. It could be your age or a host of other factors beyond your control. What you can do is remain positive and make a point to eliminate any negative self-talk or beliefs. If you tell yourself every day that companies don’t want to hire you, odds are that is what you will be subtly projecting in your interactions with others. Recruiters and hiring managers can pick up on negativity and usually try to avoid hiring negative employees.

Do you think that you’ve faced age discrimination during your job search? If so, it’s vital to focus on a few aspects within your control. Don’t draw attention to your age in your resume, social media profiles, or in conversation. Be proactive when it comes to learning about industry trends and technology. Try to avoid answering illegal questions that pertain to your age and stage of life. Finally, remain positive in your thoughts, behaviors, and actions. What is one thing you can do today to reduce the odds of being discriminated against, based on your age?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

Back to news