Age Discrimination? Probably Not.

I have many executive clients who tell me they think the reason they are not getting responses to their resumes is because they are too old. They feel the employer is looking at the resume, seeing the large amount of experience, noting the dates of the education, and dismissing them from consideration because they want a youngster to fill the slot. It is only rarely that I have found the possibility of age discrimination to be a factor in the non-response to the resume.

If a job seeker is not getting responses to the resume, there is something wrong with the resume. Employers who are seeking executive leaders are not looking for twenty-somethings with three to five years experience. Employers are looking for candidates with twenty-plus years experience. Do the math; if they wanted someone in their twenties or thirties, that candidate would have had to graduate college by age 12.

Executives or senior managers will naturally fall into the older age range. Employers know that. They are looking for candidates who have invested those years in learning the ropes, solving problems, failing at times, and achieving success more often than not. Employers want leaders who have “been there, done that” and know how to solve executive-level problems. They also want leaders who have strong industry connections and a profile that has been built over the years into a sound reputation. They won’t find these qualities in younger candidates.

“I think they think I’m too old” is a phrase that I hear from clients who have suddenly found themselves layed off after having worked for one company for many years. It’s a sign of fear of the market. Fear of something new and yet to be experienced is not unusual but it can be debilitating if allowed to run rampant. The client who tells me this needs to realize he is giving himself a “reason” to fail. If he’s too old, and if he fails to get a job, then it’s not his fault because he can’t do anything about his age. The fact is, if he fails to get a job, it’s because he didn’t invest himself in his job search enough to achieve success.

Job search is a process that has to be learned. Most people don’t conduct a job search often enough to know how best to go about it. When faced with finding a new job, it is imperative to get assistance just as you would if your car broke down. Find a career professional with an excellent reputation and learn from that professional how to find a job. It’s kind of like hiring a tutor. If you want to pass Inorganic Chemistry, and you can’t tell a carbon atom from a gold one, you need a tutor to teach you how to learn the material and the processes involved.

Armed with the knowledge and tools to conduct an effective job search, an executive can leverage his/her extensive experience to his advantage. Remember, it’s the experience that the employers are seeking. Older workers have a wealth of exactly what the employer wants! Rather than trying to hide it, cover it up, or downplay it, capitalize on it!

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