Age discrimination is illegal so your age should not be an issue in your job search. At least that’s how it’s supposed to be. In reality, some feel their age might be a liability in their job search. A strategy to avoid the issue is to keep your age out of it until you’ve had the chance to sell yourself as a great match for a position.
First, strip your materials of any dates or numbers that imply age. Your email address should be completely professional with no numbers such as year of birth or graduation. On your resume, leave out dates you received degrees. Simply list the degree and the institution. Jobs held beyond the last ten years can be combined or at least not dated on your resume. Check all your materials for clues that give away your age.
Second, always seek a warm introduction to a person, company or position. By developing a robust network, you increase the chances that someone in your network knows the hiring manager or has a connection at the company. Being introduced by a connection greatly improves your chances of being interviewed for a position. Your connection can sell you, your abilities and your match for the job to the point where your age wouldn’t occupy the hiring manager’s mind.
Third, avoid dating yourself by including vast and varied experience that is irrelevant to the job. By customizing your resume to each opportunity, you will naturally hone down experience that may date you. For example, if you worked on mainframe computers, but it’s not relevant to the job, leave it off. If it is relevant to the job, you could leave it on without the date. Be sure to directly connect the experience and your proven success to the current opportunity. Handle your deep experience the same way you would deal with potentially being overqualified for a job. Customize then sell the advantages of your qualifications.
Finally, in all your materials including phone interviews, convey a sense of energy and enthusiasm, indicative of the young and young at heart. Overcome any preconceived notions about the 40 plus worker with your clear, contemporary communication, ability to think quickly, well thought out solutions to problems and knowledge of the latest developments in your field. And don’t assume there are preconceived notions at work. For all you know, the person interviewing you may be 40 plus as well, or younger but smart enough to judge people by ability not age.
With these steps, you’ve paved the way for a favorable reception at your face to face meeting. The warm introduction, your relevant skills and your strong communication have set you up well and your age is not an issue. Perhaps your age will be obvious when you interview. Don’t feel self conscious or defensive about it. Remember that confidence and experience are the top reasons why people get hired.