Start by focusing on those traits which will impress almost any interviewer.
Q: As a middle-aged woman starting a job search, I have found that most interviewers are much younger. I am afraid these young people may automatically screen me out because of my age. What can I do to overcome that bias and show that I’m a qualified candidate worth considering?
A: Despite being illegal, age discrimination is unfortunately real, so you are wise to consider the possibility and take steps to minimize it.Start by focusing on those traits which will impress almost any interviewer.
Smile, be friendly, project confidence and show enthusiasm for the job. Explain how your background relates to the position and have relevant examples to share. Demonstrate knowledge of their organization and ask intelligent questions.
To reduce age prejudice, you must remain up-to-date. Keep your professional knowledge fresh and sharpen your technical skills. Stay on top of the latest news, including “soft” topics like sports and entertainment. You should also be familiar with mainstream social media.
Dress in age-appropriate contemporary fashions and keep your hairstyle and make-up current, but do not try to look 20 years younger. Since poor health habits can make you appear older, remember to exercise, eat properly, and get enough sleep.
Unfortunately, you must also be prepared for age-related questions. Although employers aren’t supposed to ask, they sometimes do anyway. You should definitely be ready for this one: “How do you feel about working for a younger manager?”
Finally, maintain a positive outlook, because bitterness and resentment will always show through. And never make jokes about your age, their age, or the age difference, because no one will find that amusing.
Editor’s note: Find tips for the middle-aged résumé here.