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How to counter age discrimination

Q: How do I combat age discrimination in hiring? I am 61 and I know that it is happening to me.

A: Unfortunately age discrimination does exist. A 2012 survey conducted by the AARP reported that almost one-third of Massachusetts residents report that they, or someone they know, has experienced some type of age discrimination. AARP is a non-profit advocacy group with a focus on those 50 years old and over.

Here are some suggestions:
• Ensure that your skills are current. Dated skills can hinder your search.
• Be tech savvy. Use social media as part of your job search. You should have a basic understanding of tools like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter.
• Use technology to your advantage. Make sure that you research prospective employers in advance of any interviews.
• Consider a functional resume, which highlights your skills and accomplishments rather than dates.
• If using a chronological resume, consider summarizing your early career roles and focus on the last 15 years or so.
• Think about what age biases exist. Maybe they include inflexibility or an inability to learn new tasks? Within your responses to an interviewer’s questions, weave in examples that counter those assumptions. An example:

Interviewer question: Anne, tell me about a time when you had to train a new employee while you worked at ABC Company?
Your possible response: At ABC, I was often asked to train new employees based on my knowledge of XYZ software. I realize how important flexibility is when you are a member of a growing team. At ABC, we had a period of incredible growth in 2011, so I probably trained about five new employees during that period of time. (Then provide specifics on the process of how you trained new employees).
Finally, I asked Career and Executive Coach Tammy Gooler Loeb of
Tammy Gooler Loeb Coaching & Consulting what advice she would offer. Loeb offers, “Most people underestimate the scope of their network and its ability to be helpful in their job search. These can be both professional and personal connections. You are not only connecting with them, but also with the people in their extended networks who may be of assistance as well.”

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