January 27, 2014

I’m 64: Will you hire me anyway?

Filed under: Getting in the door, Job Search, Q&A

In the January 28, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader decides to ‘fess up that he’s old… in the cover letter:

You’d never know it looking at me or talking to me, but… I’m 64! I learned a while ago to take any reference to my age off my resume, but as I list all my relevant positions and achievements, the reader has to figure, “This guy’s gotta be, like, over 60!” and boom, I’m done. The achievements, the relevant jobs, the references… buh-bye! I don’t know how to overcome this age discrimination without any opportunity for me to respond to it.

when-im-64I recently applied to a position I really want, and in the cover letter to the headhunter I wrote this:

Perhaps the only negative in my candidacy, which I feel I must address here so that it’s out in the open, is my age. I am 64 years old, which I’m sure will strike many as too old. I can assure you that in my case it is not. I’m in excellent health, I still walk 36 holes [of golf] several times a season, I play singles tennis three times a week, I write my columns and blogs in my spare time, and my clients never even think about my age. Other than continually losing arguments with my wife, I show no signs of slowing down, and fully intend to keep working full-time for at least another decade. There you go. It would be unfortunate if chronology worked against me, for no valid reason.

I figure, well, at least I’m open about it, and either it kills my chances or they actually think, “Hey, good for this guy to nip this in the bud.”

What’s your view? Ignore my age and hope they don’t notice or care? Raise it and hope they appreciate the strong position? Or deliberately hide it from all submitted material and let them reject me when they find out?

Nick’s Reply

I think your age is not the determining factor in getting a job. I think it’s a mistake to hide or emphasize age or to be defensive about it.

Consider the baseline probabilities that any given job hunter will get a job offer. They are tiny. The cynic will say, “Well, if you add in age, the odds get even smaller!” No, my view is different.

The odds are always small. But what triggers a hire is something distinctive in a candidate that suggests he or she can do an exceptional job. Such qualities are rare — in any candidate, at any age. For that reason, my advice is to forget about your age altogether. Don’t hide it or rationalize it — but leave it alone. Let them think what they want to think about age — but control the agenda. Give them something else more important to think about.

Your job is to influence an employer to believe you can make a significant material difference in the business. Show them the green, and they’re more likely to forget about the grey.

Three of the Fearless Job Hunting Books will take you on a deep dive into the topics that surround this challenge:

If an employer is going to discriminate over age, about all you can do is sue them. Or, you can hit them so hard with a value proposition that they realize they cannot afford not to hire you.

That’s the challenge. I think most of a hiring decision rides on a person’s ability to deliver profit. Age can pose additional challenges, but I think only the profit angle can overcome that.

By the way — I hate your paragraph about your age. If I were an employer reading that, I’d toss your resume. Why? Because you’re so worried about your age that your concern about it is likely to adversely affect your work and how you relate to others. My advice (but use your own judgment first) is to lose it and stop talking about it unless someone asks.

That’s my two bits. Find the right organization, do your homework (like you would if you were on the job) and hand them a brief business plan for the job — just enough to make them call you.

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed age discrimination, and it won’t be the last. Should you disclose your age up front?

: :

86 Comments on “I’m 64: Will you hire me anyway?”
By Deborah
February 3, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I’m 60 and have gray hair, can’t color anymore and frankly don’t want to. I get plenty of interviews but some people have said they want someone who wants a career..the he had gray hair…enough said. Sometimes it could be politics..ya know kinda heard that…people my age are retiring. So I still have two more years for social security so I’ll take it soon er than later I suppose. So sick of it.

By marybeth
February 4, 2014 at 12:01 am

Age discrimination is illegal, but it is alive and well and thriving. I’m an “older” worker (ie, not fresh out of college or just within that magic 3-8 years of experience). I have long removed the dates of graduations from my résumé, removed years of experience, changed my résumé to a functional format (so they see my skills, not where I have worked nor for how long). But I can’t hide my age–I don’t look 25, and I wouldn’t want to be 25 again. Well…maybe….but only if I could be 25 and know what I know now.

Employers want experience, someone with a work ethic, who has critical thinking and problem solving skills. But they don’t want to hire older workers. So what gives? They want the experience (the younger workers complain that employers won’t even look at them despite internships and volunteering because they lack the work experience, but when older workers apply, they reject them too, despite having what employers say they want).

I had one hiring manager tell me that he can tell when applicants are older because they do exactly what we’ve told to do–remove the graduation dates from our résumés, don’t put them in on our applications, change up our résumés. So either way, they can tell and we get rejected because we’re “too old”. It is illegal but most employers are very savvy today and know better than to tell applicants outright that they were not interviewed or not hired because they’re over 35 or 40. The reason given is that bland, generic “not a good fit for us”, or “someone else was a better fit”. It is very hard, nigh impossible, to prove age discrimination. As much as courts don’t like pretexts (saying that the candidate was a poor fit when you really meant too old), especially if it is poorly done, but courts also hate hate hate to get involved in day-to-day business decisions, including who businesses hire, unless businesses are stupid enough to say or document that candidate A wasn’t hired because he’s black, because she’s Jewish, because she’s 35 (too old). “Poor fit” covers a lot of sins and gets them off the hook.

I’m working part time now, and nearly all of my colleagues are in my age range or older. There’s only one who is significantly younger–in her mid-twenties. After her, the rest of us are mid/late 40’s and older. I don’t know if the result would have been the same had my colleagues all been younger than me–maybe they wouldn’t have wanted to hire an older person.

The funny thing about age is that none of us escape it. We all get older, so that 30 year old kid manager is going to be 45 someday, and I would hope that he realizes that just getting older doesn’t mean slow, stupid, or not up to date. Many of my colleagues are just as tech-savvy as the youngest among us, and we all learn from eachother because technology changes so quickly.

At the same time, I’m frustrated. I genuinely like my colleagues and my job isn’t bad. But….I’d like a full time job with better pay and benefits, and I’m beginning to fear that it won’t be an option for me, between the HR big data and the prejudice against older workers. And I’m nowhere near being ready to retire–I still have a good 20 or more years to work. When I was young (teenager and early 20’s) it was hard to find that first job because I didn’t have experience, but someone was willing to take a chance on me. I have a strong work ethic, and I’m willing to learn. I remember hoping that I’d never have to worry about that again (lack of experience), and in my youthful ignorance never thought that too much experience (age) would bring the same result–no one willing to take a chance on me.

February 4, 2014 at 12:47 am

I was recently turned down for my “dream job,” for which I met or exceeded every one of their stated requirements, in addition to having a strong proven interest in the industry, because I was “overqualified,” or so said the interviewer young enough to be my daughter.

So I used my ATH interviewing techniques and went on to get a different job (also with a startup) for which I didn’t have the experience, but which pays 2-3X the first job, and turns out to be more fun, with much nicer, more grown up, people.

As real and terrible as age discrimination is, ultimately only we can help ourselves, and we can do that through the difficult challenge of managing our attitude and staying positive in the face of adversity. It really clicked for me when I was about to vent (about what I felt was my initial, age-based rejection) to a friend who happens to be black and gay. I stopped myself, and realized … what am I doing? Here is a black, gay man somehow making it in corporate America. (And doing quite well.) How dare I complain?!

By Richard McLeland-Wieser
February 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm

“It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older,” so says the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

However, some states do outlaw age discrimination in the hiring process. Washington State law (RCW 49.44.090) states “It shall be an unfair practice: (1) For an employer or licensing agency, because an individual is forty years of age or older, to refuse to hire…”

By Richard McLeland-Wieser
February 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Ignore my previous post as it is incorrect.

By Dave
February 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm


Your post describes the frustration of millions. There seems to be a credibility problem among employers. We want experience, but not too much! You can’t stay at one job too long or you’ll stagnate, but we don’t want job hoppers either! And the list goes on…

By Becky Siebenthaler
February 5, 2014 at 6:54 pm

@AM – I love your story! Congratulations on finding that oh-so-much better job, and especially on being able to put your situation into perspective. I’m sure that was part of your good luck.

“…ultimately only we can help ourselves, and we can do that through the difficult challenge of managing our attitude and staying positive in the face of adversity.”

May your guidance illuminate the paths of many.

By marybeth
February 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

@AM: Thanks for sharing your story and for reminding us all that sometimes a reality check is needed. I was watching C-Span this am as I was getting ready for work, and someone had called into the show to counter some of the previous callers who blamed the unemployed job hunters for being “too picky, too lazy, too stupid, too uneducated, too unskilled and there must be something wrong with them” and more to be attractive to employers. After all, they’d gotten jobs, no problem. This caller said that he was in his late 50’s, had worked hard, followed the rules his entire life, only to have the rug yanked out from under him (his company outsourced many jobs to India and China, he lost his job and hasn’t been able to find another one. He’s lowered his expectations, has been willing to work (at Wal-Mart, even), has kept up his tech skills, etc., but nothing. He said there’s a saying: “It is nothing when someone you don’t know loses his job, it’s too bad when your neighbor loses his job, but it’s a tragedy when you lose your job”.

Yes, certain groups face even more challenges getting hired, but older workers are one of those groups. I’m glad that you found an employer who was willing to hire for skills and didn’t get distracted by, or let prejudices about age prevent him from hiring you. It is nice to know that there are still some employers who don’t consider it a bad thing, but your employer is rare.

February 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

There’s lots of age discrimination. I had a headhunter interview last week and after 10 minutes the recruiter said the hiring manager was looking for someone with 5 years of experience. I felt like saying “Then why are you calling me because I clearly have more experience than that listed on my resume. Do the math.”

Some hiring managers don’t know what they don’t know and are threatened by someone who obviously knows more than them. They don’t have enough foresight to determine if someone is going to drive profit and they’re just looking to hire someone they get along with….someone with similar experience….someone in their own image.

By Richard McLeland-Wieser
February 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Experience discrimination? KS brings up an interesting point. When a position announcement states a minimum years experience, can it really mean “maximum” years experience? Is it a subtle way of saying we do not want a person with more than five years experience? Perhaps it is not age discrimination but rather experience discrimination?

By debbie
July 16, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I am a white woman 46 in a field of mostly men, technology,cloud etc..there definitely is age discrimination going on when interviewing. I was looking for a job about a year ago. When I would interview with women I would get through but as soon as I met a younger man, I never got to the next step. Lastly, I have a friend who is a director at Google and I asked her if she could help get me in. She told me HR won’t even talk to me as they want to grow there own! meaning I am too old to grow:) Just recently I was on a call with one our top women executives who was just hired, she told the audience they will be bringing in fresh young people to help create a cool feel! WOW! from a 50 yr old woman no less! I sympathize but keep going and talk to every contact on linkedin you have, that is how I landed a job that I wanted but with a company that wouldn’t be my first choice.

By KCKen
October 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Today’s recruiters absolutely stink. I am writing this with my fingers on a phone standing in line at the airport, so please excuse any errors. Undoubtedly my problem is my age and incompetent people known as recruiters. I have recently begun looking for another job as I am moving to Florida, California or Texas. I am 55 and I have a high level position in KC, MO with a large, financial services company. My home is for sale and I am moving from the state known as Missouri. I am the Director / Manager of a division that I started 6 years ago from scratch. We now have 12 employees under me and we had revenue of $24 million in our division in 2013. I have an extensive history of success and I have been to law school and I earned have 8 “certifications”- over the last 10 years. My point is that I am no rookie, have a great amount of experience in sales, management, and 5 other areas. I bring a lot to the table & have numerous awards and I am a published author.

What I have experienced over the last year with “recruiters” has been an ugly, incompetent, frustrating experience. Whether it is “inside” recruiters – or “outside, retained” recruiters, I have been very, very unimpressed. The ignorance, youth, stupidity, lack of preparation and total malaise of the folks I have interviewed with has been mind boggling. For reasons that I cannot fathom, most of these companies will have the interview process begin with low level, flunky. Instead of interviewing with a peer or the direct manager, they have a young person perform the initial interview. A young person that has not ever read my resume nor looked at the 3 hyperlinks that I send them in preparation for the interview. A person who doesn’t know how to diagram a sentence or a paragraph on the chalkboard in front of a nun. I have taken the advice of professional resume writers and also have a web site that showcases my “brand” and capabilities. All of the advice that I have read on The Ladders & LinkedIN — I have done it all. Fortunately, I do have a job in KC and if I can’t get another in those state I mentioned, I will just stay put. I feel sorry for the millions of folks that are age 40 and above who are unemployed or underemployed. To be subject to the semi literate vicissitudes of these so called “recruiters” must be very frustrating. It is like a nuclear physicist interviewing with a 4th grader. Below is just one, very typical, experience that I have encountered

Recently, I had a 10:00am appointment with a “retained” recruiter at a large, national, agency. I was somewhat surprised that the young woman was actually willing to meet with me face to face. In preparation for our appointment, she asked me to send her information on myself so that she “may better know me” – when I arrived for my appointment. In addition to my resume, I included 3 hyperlinks in my email. One is a link to an article (with my photo) that I had published on Yahoo Finance. This is an excellent chance to learn about my excellent writing capabilities and it showcases my knowledge of financial services / insurance & marketing.

The second link was an article about me and my career (with a nice photo). It succinctly describes my career transition (5 years ago) and talks about my previous 17 years with a large legal publishing company.

The 3rd link was to my, LinkedIn profile which lists degrees, accomplishments, awards, certificates, licenses etc. If one were to spend ten minutes on those links, they would know all about me and what I bring to the table. I also included links to 5 jobs that were recently posted that I think would be perfect for me. I wanted to give her an idea of the kind of work that I am looking for.

When I arrived at the interview, the 26 year old girl began asking me some very basic questions. I asked, did you take the time to read the email (which she had requested) that I sent with the résumé, links, information, etc? She replied, “No, I never waste my time reading anything that a candidate sends to me. I have had candidates not show up for interviews and I decided long ago that I would not waste my time reviewing anything a candidate sends me — until after they visit with me.” Though I did not show it, I was livid, disappointed & disgusted with her total lack of professionalism. Had she spent 10 minutes reading what I had sent her, we could have spent the hour long interview discussing more substantive issues; items that would have allowed her to place me in a position.

Once again I was less than impressed. BTW, she knew absolutely nothing about the industry for which I was interviewing.

Because of today’s online method of applying for jobs, 99% of all of my submittals never reach a human that can actually read it. Sometimes, within 60 seconds of submitting an (online) application, I will receive a rejection letter. The computer calculates my age and, being over 40, I get rejection emails within a minute. If only my resume could get to the head of Google…
I know that recruiters reading this will react violently, but I suggest they go to this web site and read 100’s of horror stories that professionals have experienced vis a vis these so called recruiters:

By KCKen
October 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm

BTW, I mentioned above that there are 12 employees under me. Every single employee I have hired over the last 6 years has been after 3 interviews – with three candidates each time. Never took more than a week (after advertising the job) and they have worked out wonderfully. They range in age from 30 to 60 years. I don’t understand today’s companies interviewing folks for months at a time and, often, never making a hire! I believe these hiring folks get into a mode known as “analysis paralysis.” They just can’t pull the trigger.

By Andrew
October 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I am 60 years old and looking for a job. I applied for a position through a
headhunter. The headhunter got back to me and said. “Even though you are
a perfect fit for the job the employer feels you are too old “. Is this legal because it was done through a headhunter.

By Nick Corcodilos
October 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

@Andrew: Proving discrimination is difficult. The headhunter you refer to is an idiot who seems to think this is just routine business and perfectly fine. It’s not. I understand your question – is the employer insulated from it because there’s a headhunter in between? I’m not a lawyer so I can’t answer that, but in my lay opinion, the employer has a problem if the hh testifies! Your least costly option is to contact your state’s department of labor and employment. Ask them. I wish you the best – because this sucks.

By Larry Kaplan
October 31, 2014 at 8:56 pm

I just came across this thread again. I think Nick’s advice is basically right on, although it is more relevant to jobs where value-added is the overriding factor, or at least should be, in hiring. But there are exceptions.

My background is in public relations, where image is critical, and not objectively measurable, like value. A company or organization in many markets and localities desires “front people” who convey a particular image and nothing more because their functions are not perceived as being critical to the bottom-line success of the organization.

For example, a real estate developer doing projects in a heavily minority community will usually hire a person of color to open doors with local politicians and community leaders. Once the doors have been opened, the developer cuts his deals with various parties based strictly on money. But they need to get that door opened. Therefore, the value-added they will seek is a younger, more diverse candidate.

Or a PR agency needs a young account executive to pitch stories to the media because today it is dominated by bloggers and online editors who are young themselves. Having spent years in the PR business, I can tell you that vibe and relationships are as important as the intrinsic value of the story being pitched.

A lot of it comes down to organizational culture. Here in LA, where entertainment and other creative industries dominate, the culture is young and diverse. Older white men have a more difficult time overcoming those attitudes, except when they offer very unique value (such as being a well-respected expert in a particular field). It’s harder for generalists.

That’s why I stopped looking for jobs and rebranded myself as an expert in a particular field with a great depth of knowledge. I often find myself in the background, advising the client, and not interacting with their publics.

By Beth
December 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I turned 63 this year and this has been the hardest year to find a job. I get calls all the time from recruiters and have had several interviews (mostly phone screens), but no offers. I find phone interviews more difficult than in person. A google search on my name and city alone will bring up records that reveal my age. I think this should not be legal for public records to be scraped and published so freely, but it would all come out in a background check anyway. I have thought a lot about leaving traditional work behind and becoming an independent consultant, where I think my experience would be more an advantage. However, I miss the team experience and I need a regular income for a few more years. I think Nick’s point is very good that you have to focus on your value. But I never knew I had to present a business plan to prove my value during an interview. Of course I try to highlight my strengths and what I can bring to the table. I guess I will have to work harder on my presentation.

By Don
December 19, 2014 at 4:13 pm

@ Beth
Soldier on. There’s work life out there for you. Since age 55 I found and changed jobs (not voluntarily) several times, landing the last one at age 69. (I’m 75.5 now).
Nick’s right, focus on your value and job content. or stated another way, ignore age. If anything make your age clear…because you are looking for companies where age is of no import, and the related experience is high value. That means you’ll be ignored, rejected, and kiss a lot of frogs, Set expectations accordingly and flip the view…that you are assessing their business smarts, rather than them testing yours. companies that ignore you because of age, aren’t worth your time, and move on.
And think about killing 2 birds with one stone. Yes put together a business plan and value proposition and test it out where and when ever you can. 1st because hardly any candidates are that well prepared, they just do resumes, so you will be memorable, 2nd because de facto you will be trying out your consulting collateral, which may get you a contracting gig, and/or help you fine tune the collateral by testing it on the market, preparing you for being independent. So hang in there. Persistence wins. Don

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – ‘Tis the season to land the right job
December 22, 2014 at 10:45 pm

[…] I’m 64: Will you hire me anyway? […]

December 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

If you can’t find anything as an employee, consider contracting. Most firms don’t need more managers. They need people who can do the work. Focus on the dollars and forget the title.

By Ellie
December 31, 2014 at 11:53 am

I am 64 and have been unemployed for years. If I had to mention age discrimination on the jobs I applied to, it would literally go on for miles. I can count on three fingers in the last five years, the times the phone actually rang for a job. I am well educated ( 3 university degrees)outgoing,and funny, but, due to no job I live in poverty. How do you make the ” kids” hire you??

By Don
January 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm

@ Ellie, scroll up a bit. You’ll see I’m 75, and when I was about your age, I retooled my career into another direction..recruiter.
From your note one can assume one possible answer..you’ve been playing the game by the usual rules…applying then waiting for a response. You can’t MAKE the kids hire you, but you can make it a good idea.
Hunt for companies, not jobs. You apply to jobs, but you research companies, and in your case, look for evidence that they don’t care about age..define what you could bring to that company, via the research and networking find a person who would be interested in your value add, and try and contact them directly. Not about a job..as what you do best may not yet have solidified into a job…but what you can do for that person(s). in short put your energy into network building and development. You’ll find people who value the experience, not the birthdays. See what you can do for these people, networking is all about giving ,as much as getting. and work your evolving network. If someone can’t bring you into a company at this time, don’t be shy about asking them if they can refer you to someone who’d like to know you, and hear what they’ve heard.
Don’t be discouraged. You’ll find that people really want to help…but you have to help them help you. Give them something to work with beyond a resume, give them a good sense of where you believe you add value to a company, thereby turning them into advocates for you. Your own sales team.
Hang in there and have a great 2015! Don

By Linda
January 16, 2015 at 5:15 am

I stumbled across this site looking for something else. However, the age issue in hiring is very much alive. I’ve been trying to get a job for 2 years. I’ve applied for 100’s….yes 100’s of jobs that are minimum wage jobs and I don’t even get a call. I’ve had very few interviews and then they were all with someone half my age. I’m a professional with a finance background and have much to offer any joy. Applications have many ways of determining a person’s probable age. You cannot convince me that age discrimination is not real. I worked for a seasonal job about a year ago for only a couple of months. When we had orientation on the first day there were approx 30 people who were hired. I was the only person in the room over the age of 30 (most were young 20’s). That was proof to me that age discrimination is real. P. S. That was the only job I’ve been able to get in over 2 years. I even follow up with employers to show my interest and still nothing. This is unbelievable.

By Nick Corcodilos
January 16, 2015 at 6:19 pm

@Linda: Oh, age discrimination is real. It’s why I write so much about it and try to share ways to get past it that are based on ways to get the employer’s attention.

By Laura Ann
January 31, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Seeing this posting made me feel so sad but at least I know I’m not crazy. I’m career executive assistant with over 40 years of experience. I have kept up and excelled at new technologies in the workplace, but nevertheless, I was part of RIF in August and at 62, I’m going through the drill of looking for my next long-term assignment. I was so positive at first because every past job search that yielded an interview that resulted in a job offer. In fact, I usually had a few offers on the table and had the luxury of leveraging those offers to hike pay and/or benefits. Fast forward…. I still get many invitations to interview and then its radio silence or “You weren’t the right fit.” I’ve got a spread sheet to track over 100 resumes I’ve submitted since August. It’s interesting to note that I often see that a job for which I interviewed was filled and then a month or so later, it back up on the recruitment boards. I guess they chose the wrong candidate — probably one that was younger and cheaper, but as the saying goes… “you get what you paid for.” Sadly, I am now convinced my age has everything to do with not getting those offers. However, I refuse to be forced into early retirement. Someone out there has to see the value in our expertise, experience,and the many skills we mature individuals bring to the table.

By Don
February 2, 2015 at 2:24 pm

@ Laura Ann. Hang in there. You’re just a kid. I’ve had 6 or 7 jobs since 55 the last I picked up 6 years ago at 69.

Sure there’s age discrimination, been there done that. What can you do about it? Your last sentence is key. Persist! You’re in sales now, selling you inc. and persistence is a big part of sales success.

And in your plan…as far as age goes, just ignore it. that is, skip the advised subtle (or Not) ways to hide age. Hang it out there because you’re looking for companies and managers who at the least don’t care about age, and best those who value it and the applicable experience.

In other words don’t obsess about it, because age aside, you have all the other job hunting issues, activities, tactics & planning you need to focus on.

Most important, in this blogs archives you’re going to find a wealth of information and advice on things you do need to focus on.

For example your note refers to recruitment or job boards. That direction may be one reason you’re spinning wheels. Redirect your energy to getting to hiring managers and convince them of your worth.

Don’t be discouraged because it sounds like you’re getting interviews. Every interview is a win from a networking standpoint, in that you leave having personally met a hiring manager or HR recruiter who is one step removed. If you collect business cards, and/or contact information, you have the foundation for a growing network. Circle back around in about 2-3 months to people you’ve interviewed with, particularly when you’ve seen them repost a job. If you’ve seen jobs reposted (note they may be reposted because they may be trolling for names)

I’m a corporate/inside recruiter these days. I can assure you that following up is a good use of your time. There’s several people walking around the company I work for, because they persisted, kept raising their hand..which I equate to interest and follow up. Both of which are key performance attributes of any job.

Hang in there and keep hammering away. I can’t guarantee success, but if you don’t I can guarantee low probability of success.

By Don
February 2, 2015 at 5:35 pm

@ Laura Ann
On reflection let me expand and hopefully be more encouraging.

I know it’s easy to say “ignore your age” but it’s an acquired skill. You need to do so to manage your search for a new adventure.

I didn’t make clear that the jobs I got after 55 & onward were via networking, not via what I’ll call the convention approach, job boards, applying etc. though I did so and got a few interviews.

Yes there’s age and all kinds of job hunting unfairness. And they are most likely to be found when you hunt conventionally, strangers reading your paper, strangers screening and interviewing you, People who don’t know you, and can’t or won’t take the time to really do so, to understand where you’d add value to their enterprise. The conventional and it’s foundation of anonymity lends itself perfectly to dependency on hypothetical images and stereotypes, because it has no solid information to go on.

The reason I suggested that you’d do well to pour over this blog …and the wealth of information in the archives is because this blog/Nick’s core approach is not conventional, but networking based, sort of to learn to be your own recruiter.

The conventional approach can give the illusion of productivity, i.e you can pump out a lot of applications in a short period of time. But the return on investment is low..i.e. a low probability of success, for anyone, not just those of us blessed with age. It’s a high volume low margin business model.

The networking approach and the philosophy in this blog is a low volume high margin approach. Building and maintaining, and deploying a network takes a lot of effort, and well fits the homily that looking for a job is a full time job in itself. Lot of research, lot of leg/phone/cursor work, lot of planning. Conventional is like wielding a shotgun hoping you’ll hit something, networking is a laser beam.

Why networking is better, and particularly better for older workers worrying about age is because it’s like a filter. As you seek someone or somewhere where age doesn’t count, your networking filters out those where it does and where your time, energy, and hopes would be wasted. Leaving quality leads.

And I’ve not heard it mentioned, but from experience, networking favors the older person. That is The older you get, (if you’ve been active and paying attention) the larger your network, and likely the percentage of quality contacts is higher. This may not be 100% correct but I think it’s a safe bet. For instance at 60, I had a much larger network to draw on than at 30. Everyone’s got a network, so do you. So you have a great tool, learn grow it, and use it.

True, I had sinned. All people do. I lost touch with a lot of people. But I can tell you this from experience…There are very few people who don’t want to help…You can reach way back…and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find people will reconnect with pleasure and be ready, and willing to help you..but you have to help them, help you but being clear about what you want..and I don’t mean “a job” I mean with your career, a desired direction, finding where you will get your mojo back.

How to go about networking, and helping people help you…Dig around in this blog’s archives.


By Carmine Willey
March 5, 2015 at 1:56 pm

On an application they ask the year you graduated from high school so how are you supposed to disguise your age?!

By Don
March 5, 2015 at 2:17 pm

@ Carmine. Don’t try & disguise your age. First as a hiring manager, job hunter and recruiter, I can tell you the disguise recommendations really don’t work that well.
the inference is that somehow a job hunter will slip past some age bias, get an interview and then the company/hiring manager will be wowed and it won’t matter.
If a company or hiring manager has that bias, the game’s over when you walk in the door.
You’re looking for the people who really don’t care about age. So hang it out there, as it will save you a lot of time upfront. Because companies that respond to you, knowing your age, are clearly telling you as far as they are concerned it doesn’t matter.
In the case of the application, turn your perspective around and view it as a tool to test them out as far as their biases.
If you don’t hear from them, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are age biased, it could be a ton of other reasons. But if you hear from them, it will tell you what you need to know.
(I speak from experience…I’m 75, and have done the job hunting thing since I was 55)

By Nick Corcodilos
March 5, 2015 at 2:27 pm

@Carmine Willey: Disguise your age?? You’re listening to too many silly resume writers, career coaches and counselors. What happens when you show up for the job interview???

The answer? What Don said.

By Chris Walker
March 5, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Pay attention to the aspects of job search you can control; age isn’t one of them. Don’t think/worry/speculate about what some company’s or recruiter’s biases may be or anything else going on on the other side of the conversation. Read this from the ATH web site http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/faqage1.htm for some great advice about attitude.

Satchel Paige said: Age is mind over matter…if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

By Beth
March 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Don and Nick, Thank You. I am so grateful for this thread. I posted back in December that I was looking for a job at 63. I actually have been accepting short term contract jobs for several years. It’s taken its toll on me and my finances. I have recently accepted a permanent job with a large prestigious company and am starting Monday. What you said about making age a non-issue in my own mind, and leading with my great experience, really helped me to be at ease during the interview. It did help too that the managers who interviewed me were in my age bracket or pretty close. That told me that this company does not discriminate. I think also if you look around, there are a lot of older people working. It’s not so uncommon. Any company that has a high standard of integrity about how they do things is not going to discriminate. Good luck to all!

By Don
March 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm

@Beth. Great! the business upside of old is that it equals experience. we didn’t get old overnight and in the process learned a lot and have a lot to offer

By Nick Corcodilos
March 5, 2015 at 5:22 pm

@Beth: Thanks for sharing your experience and success, and for reminding everyone that loads of older workers are working.

@Chris Walker: Thanks for reminding me about that short article I wrote long ago!

By Samia Hanna
November 23, 2015 at 8:59 pm

For many years, my resume got me immediate responses. And if I was interviewed, I usually got the job offer. Now, I do not receive the same responses, and I can’t think of any reasons other than age. I agree that I shouldn’t be defensive about it, but I really don’t feel my age, I am full of energy and have an excellent memory. I would like to work for many more years. Any advice?

By Nick Corcodilos
November 23, 2015 at 9:38 pm

@Samia: I don’t think it’s your age, or at least it’s not just your age. Employers now have access to every resume on the planet, and recruiting is almost totally based on accessing resume databases. This actually increases the competition you face to levels formerly unknown. My advice: Learn to job hunt without a resume to reduce your competition. Search “resume” on this blog for how to do that.

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