Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Overcome the 4 Main Factors of Age Discrimination

It is neither legal nor fair. However, age discrimination is unfortunately prevalent in the workforce. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010, there was a 17% increase in the number of age discrimination complaints filed since 2007.

Age discrimination, as with most discrimination, is based in fear. Understand the fear and you can make great strides toward a successful interview. Here are the 4 most common fear factors and some ideas as to how you can overcome these objections.

Lack of Energy
One of the main concerns is that the older worker may not have the same level of energy and enthusiasm for the job as a younger candidate. Once you are in the interview, offer a firm handshake, smile with confidence, radiate positive energy, and clearly demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for your profession.

Health Concerns
You must be realistic about your ability to do the job. I once met with an 80 year-old explosives engineer whose hands shook. Although he wanted to stay in the industry, he no longer had the physical capability. Last week, I met a 75 year-old nurse who walked with a cane. She no longer had the stamina to do clinical nursing, so instead she switched to telephonic nursing where she could do her job sitting down. If you have a clear understanding of your limitations and apply to jobs for which you are physically capable, you should have no problem convincing the interviewer of your capability.

Outdated Knowledge
Have you kept your industry knowledge and technology skills current? You can’t possibly expect to receive an administrative support job when you don’t know how to use Microsoft Office. Keep yourself competitive by keeping your skills current. Focus on your recent classes, certifications, and online courses to show your knowledge of current technology. As an aside, you also want to ensure your appearance – including your apparel, hair, and makeup – is not outdated. You don’t need to go trendy, but aim for modern professional with your clothing and grooming.

Be wary of the fact that people are very protective of their jobs these days. Find the right balance between showing your value without intimidating your younger and less-qualified interviewer into fearing you will take their job. Clearly state the type of support role you would like to take in the company and quantify the value you can offer to your future boss.

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