Age Discrimination in Hiring

Avoid age discrimination in hiring practices - Readers share tips to help avoid experiencing age discrimination in your job search.

Avoiding Reverse Age Discrimination

Age discrimination can be both against young and old. I have the (mis)fortune of appearing younger than my actual age. As a female engineer, this was both a professional and personal frustration.

If I was not mistaken for a secretary due to my gender, I was mistaken for a student intern – despite being the project engineer.

When the sales engineer arrives to discuss a quarter million dollars in people of equipment and asks me for coffee – not realizing that I am the one determining whether or not to buy the equipment, not a clerk or hostess, I was often left with doubts as to how much was due to stereotypes and how much was due to appearance.

To avoid age discrimination at any age:

  1. Dress in eternally classic and professional suits. If your parents could have worn it into the office and older coworkers can wear it today, so can you.

    Wearing classic, cleanly pressed business formal clothing states you are serious and in charge. Trendy items may make you look hip, but in the workplace, it may mark you as too young to be taken seriously.

  2. If you are wearing business casual, exclude jeans, T-shirts, and "chic" items. If you wore it in college, don't wear it at work. Imagine a business casual job interview, then dress that way every day.

  3. When speaking with coworkers, don't discuss your college days, no matter when it was. If you talk too much about being a student, whether that was 5 years ago or 15, you will be treated as inexperienced.

  4. If someone asks when and where you went to school, simply answer with where. Saying when could mark you as either too young or too old for the position. Don't discuss GPA unless you are actually a new graduate.

  5. Do discuss credentials recently achieved. This doesn't mark you as young but as up to date on skills.

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Wisdom Willingness

by Karen
(Northwest Indiana)

Like many people, I am currently in a job search, and I am toying with a mental trick before interviews that I call "wisdom willingness."

A couple of decades ago, I would have said my self talk as I got myself ready through a printed resume would be more like this: I am crafting a career move. My point is - this time around my job search is about my willingness to project "contained wisdom." My work history is diverse and perhaps intimidating to an employer. However, I am utilizing my image as a wise, kind person due to age related physical appearances as an asset. My objective is to leave the interview so the person remembers me as a potential employee "quiet resolve mixed with a pool of knowledge, ability, and skill that can be tapped."

Positioning oneself to project perceived value to a company as an employee is good branding (marketing technique) and I am receiving very positive results.

Lisa's Response



It is So Important to Consider How You Are Perceived by Employers

Karen, thank you for your wise insights. Your comment, "Positioning oneself to project perceived value to a company as an employee is good branding (marketing technique) and I am receiving very positive results." is so smart and really crucial. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Best wishes for your job search.

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