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How does age affect a job search?

John Lanier's Profile

Answers

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

That depends, John.

Without a clear and compelling value proposition and a well-defined target audience, age can certainly be an issue. It can also be a huge issue depending on your job level ... meaning, most companies aren’t looking for a 22-year old CFO nor are they necessarily interested in a 62-year old social media grunt.

While age discrimination does exist ... and you wouldn’t want to work for those companies anyway I would presume ... your ability to add value to the right organization goes a very long way towards mitigating age discrimination.

Topic Expert
Samuel Dergel
Title: Director - Executive Search
Company: Stanton Chase International
LinkedIn Profile
(Director - Executive Search, Stanton Chase International) |

John,

Most often, age is an issue for the person making the issue out of it.

If you think it's an issue in your search, it is.

The real question in any hire is: Is this the best person for the job?

The challenge is, when people hire, is that they don't know what the best person should have to be successful in the role. When they don't know what to look for, they focus on things that are less important, like the actual age.

Cindy's advice is always good, so I couldn't use the same answer.

Best of luck with your search,

Samuel

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP of Finance & Operations
Company: RBA Consulting
(VP of Finance & Operations, RBA Consulting) |

John,

No doubt, there is age discrimination going on, but from what I've seen it's not really the age - it's the style or ability to adapt to the current needs of the firm that makes you look old. If there was a job search equivalent to the saying "You're as old as you feel", it would be "You're as old as you present yourself".

For example, given the use of alternative tools for communication/sharing (whether on-line social media, tools like Basecamp, etc.), there's simply a need to keep up. You don't have to be an expert, but you should know what it is. If you don't have a clue, then it is makes it easier to select someone who can use their skills in the current environment.

A friend of mine is in his early 50's in the world of marketing - which is heavily slanted toward the young guns - he has matched his experience with staying current (notice I did not say 'young') and focusing on a niche area.

If you use your network, you'll get feedback on the type of company culture or hiring within a targeted firm - so that will help you better focus on the 'right' firms for you. A great resource is fellow job seekers who are in your age group - they can give you a good pulse on the market from an experienced set of eyes.

You've likely earned experiences that most people only wish they could have - if you can show that you can use that experience to address their needs within how they operate - then age becomes your secret weapon. You only need to look to senior executives who have taken on start-ups and made they successful as a great example of how experience melds nicely with new ideas.

Hope this helps.

Mark

Robert Sheidler
Title: Consultant
Company: Self
LinkedIn Profile
(Consultant, Self) |

When I was working inside the Fortune 500 universe, I saw frequent age (and other forms of) discrimination. Most often, it was not overt, but more a matter of making assumptions about the candidates based on their age, gender, etc.

With regard to age, common concerns included assumptions about flexibility and adaptability, technology, and that sort of thing, as well as concerns about energy levels, health risks, and with the candidates' "fit" within the team -- especially when the rest of the team, including the team leaders, were considerably younger.

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