How to combat ageist stereotyping in the job market

“I’m afraid I won’t be able to find a job because of my age,” is the complaint of many job hunters in their 50’s, not to mention people ten years their senior.

“Age prejudice kicks in not because of age but because of perception,” says the late Steve Cuthrell, one of America’s pioneer career counselors.

You can handle age prejudice when you change this perception by bringing energy to job interviews. “It’s never how old you are,” said Cuthrell, “but how old you look and feel.”

How to look and feel great

You feel energized when you’re physically fit. Exercising for just a half hour a day can help you develop that energy. “Even ten minutes a day will help,” says Laura Carstensen, an expert on aging. She’s known for her research in the psychology of aging that debunks stereotypes of older people as slow and surly. “Life gets only richer with time,” says Carstensen in a printed report.

Studies show the many benefits of hiring older workers. Senior workers are known to be more reliable, bring more experience to the table, serve as models for younger colleagues, and are better listeners.

What can you do about age stereotyping and age prejudice in the job market?

You can’t do anything about stereotype prejudice concerning age. But you can work to overcome it by giving each interview your best shot. That means to focus on what you have to offer that matches the job description. “If it works, fine,” said career counselor Cuthrell. “If it doesn’t, you don’t want to be hired by somebody who doesn’t want you.”

It’s true—there is age prejudice in the job marketplace. Some employers will stereotype you and won’t want to work with you because of age. So it’s useless to try and change their minds. Keep your job search going until you find an employer who’ll value you for the knowledge and experience that comes with age.

To combat ageist attitudes at interviews, talk about the benefits of hiring older workers. Some were mentioned above. Here are three more you can use at interviews:

  1. Your ability to handle stress more efficiently than younger workers
  2. Your experience in handling challenges successfully.
  3. Your success in working with young staff members.

Bottom line for combating ageist stereotyping at interviews

If you’re over 50, go into each interview without thinking about age. You need to talk about how your well-developed skills have resulted in wonderful achievements in past jobs and what you can do for your next employer.

And take advantage of 60-second coaching sessions you’ll receive in my book “Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach.” Learn how to handle age prejudice in your search with over 30 coaching vignettes in the chapter titled You’re Either Too Young or Too Old. Order now from Amazon.

Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.