Recruiters may deny that ageism exists within their organisations, but the reality is that it is still rife – even in 2021.
In WerkLabs' Ageism Survey, where more than 700 professionals over the age of 40 were interviewed, 60 per cent say they had encountered ageism in their professional lives.
Of those, 75 per cent claim to have experienced ageism in their job search and 53 per cent experienced ageism in their workplace.
While these may not be encouraging statistics, especially if you're over 50 and searching for a job, there are things you can do to ensure that the chances of being judged according to your age are reduced...
1. Do your research
There are several ways you can conduct research and explore what qualifications, training and experience may be required in today's job market.
Emma Louise O'Brien, career coach at Renovo, says: 'The National Careers Service website offers advice around what training you will need to do to begin a new career, the salary to expect and what the job role is likely to include.'
Consider searching job sites like Indeed, DirectlyApply, Adzuna, and Totaljobs and don't disregard the niche ones.
New job hubs like Set Your Worth allow you to set your own salary and working preferences. O'Brien adds: 'Workingmums.co.uk is a great resource for women returning to work.'
2. Don't overshare
Divulging your birthday and putting dates on your CV is no longer necessary.
Mandy Watson, managing director at Ambitions Personnel a recruitment specialist, says: 'Believe it or not, this is common practice now.
'If you can, don't go back too far. Try and keep it succinct and list the last ten years or three jobs is a rough guide.'
John Lees, author of Knockout Interview, says: 'If it [age] does come up interview it's best to play to your strengths.
'For example, say, 'I think I have the maturity and experience that younger applicants are missing. Besides, they'll be off in two years, but I'm looking for a longer-term position'.'
Watson adds: 'It's not necessary to include furlough on a CV either, as technically you've still been employed during this time.
'If anyone asks, you can discuss this at interview stages. It's best to try and focus on the positives and any re-training or self-improvement that you've done throughout this time.'
3. Be open to training
While you have experience on your side you should still be open to learning new things.
'You need to be able to demonstrate that you are still willing to learn and to be flexible and adaptable.
'You should make it clear to employers that you're open to train, learn new things, and take on new responsibilities,' says Watson.
4. Show off your tech skills
If you're tech savvy, demonstrate this. Elisa Nardi, chief executive of Notebook Mentor and a former chief people officer says. 'Being tech savvy is important in most jobs today, so even if you're not a tech whizz or social media lover, make sure you're up to date and you understand what technology solutions are important to the company you're applying to.'
5. Don't get flustered or annoyed
The interviewer may look like they're fresh out of college, but don't let this intimidate you or make you feel jaded.
As you are over 50 you may feel like everyone's against you, but this could prevent you from being successful.
'Do not take offence at being interviewed by someone much younger (or in your eyes) less experienced than you. Nardi says: 'If you go into any interview or application process with this on your mind, chances are you'll bring your own unconscious bias into the situation – and that may really work against you.
'Be professional in all circumstances and listen carefully to the questions asked. The job-hunting process is about mutual respect.'
6. Take advantage of skills shortages
There are lots of sectors that are crying out for workers such as hospitality, retail and logistics because of the pandemic and Brexit restrictions.
Free training and sign-up bonuses may also be included as many try to entice applicants.
Salaries are also increasing in these sectors. A recent report highlights that Gist, a logistics company that delivers for Tesco, M&S and Aldi, Morrisons and Ocado is offering annual pay over £50,000.
What's more, retailers like Waitrose are offering a £1,000 sign up bonus for certain roles, like lorry drivers, and benefits like discounted holidays and a private members club.
7. Show you're comfortable with a younger boss
There's no need to show off your Gove-dancing moves to impress upon the recruiters that you could fit in with a company that hires people in their 30s and below.
However, you could convey in the interview that working for someone ten or twenty years your junior is something you're comfortable with.
Bernat Farrero, HR Expert and CEO of HR software company Factorial HR, adds: 'It is usually wrongfully assumed that people in the over 50 age lack the creativity or innovation of their younger peers, so showing that this isn't the case is a great interviewing technique.
'Come prepared either with examples of how your creativity has benefitted former employers, or with some creative ideas that you would bring to the role.'
8. Refresh your online profiles and CV
Remember to update your CV. If you need help in creating your CV there are several sites, such as DirectlyApply that have a resume builder that offer free templates that you can populate yourself.
Be sure that your social media accounts, especially the professional ones such as LinkedIn, are up to date as potential employers are bound to snoop up on you before they invite you for an interview.
Charlotte Davies, careers expert at LinkedIn, says: 'LinkedIn members with a profile photo have 21 times more views and up to nine times more connection requests than members who don't have one.
'Don't forget to include a short summary of your background and highlight your key skills. You can also let recruiters and your network know you're open to new opportunities by enabling the "Open to Work" feature on your profile.'
Consider virtual job events. For instance, this month Amazon is looking to hire 2,500 roles across the UK for corporate, tech and operations roles as part of its Career Day on 16th September.
It claims this will be the biggest free virtual recruiting event in the UK. For hourly workers, pay starts at £11 per hour in London and £10 an hour in other parts of the UK.
Don't forget to also network with your friends and social media connections to ask about available jobs.
Davies says: 'Regularly sharing your opinions or things that interest you, like an engaging video or article, is a great way to stay connected with your professional community.
'There are also sector-relevant groups and forums worth joining, as employers like to see you being proactive online.'
By Angelique Ruzicka
Avoid red flags
Ultimately, your age should not be a barrier to you obtaining a job in your 50s and beyond.
If it is, don't consider it a setback but an opportunity to find a job elsewhere, where an employer values your experience.
'If age does come up as a negative, this should be an immediate red flag for any candidate.
'Do you really want to work for a business that thinks your age is the best way to assess your capabilities?
'It's a candidate-led market now, and skilled interviewees should have plenty of opportunities. Make sure you take your experience somewhere it will be appreciated.'
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