Beating ageism in job search is a worry for older women

by May 11, 2017

Steps for beating ageism

beating ageism


Ageism is one of the most prevalent forms of bias and active discrimination that impacts job search as an increasing number in all geographies are now postponing retirement. Yet beating ageism is one of the biggest concerns for many older women candidates. Today’s more mature workers are generally healthier and more active than any previous generations. They offer a wealth of experience and knowledge. But older workers are characterised by perceptions that they are expensive to employ, are health risks as well as being technologically unskilled and challenged.

Reports of age discrimination are also on the increase. Age discrimination against women also tends to be greater than against men. Men become wise with age and they are sought out for their experience. Women do not fare so well and complain they are being forced out of the workforce. Yet they are increasingly looking to re-enter the workplace at a certain age and may also want to change their roles. With retirement now pegged at 70 they might still be looking for job satisfaction and promotion, or maybe changes have been forced upon them and they need to earn money.  By 2019, more than 40% of workers in the US over the age of 55 will be in full-time employment, representing 25% of the total workforce, so how they beat ageism is becoming vital.

Read: Job search tips for mature candidates

5 strategies for beating ageism in your job search.


1.Don’t hide your age

If someone leaves off the dates of their education that is an almost sure-fire indication you are over 50. This is something that is more common with U.S. candidates than in Europe, but nevertheless is creeping over here.  It’s important to own and embrace your experience.

2. Strong communication skills

Many organisations may not be interested in your candidacy, but the trick is to find the ones that will. Mature candidates have established CVs and can be researched quickly and their credentials verified.  With work experience gained outside the digital age you will have old-school skills in spades.  You will generally score more highly on oral and written communication skills which are an added bonus in a workplace that is now Millennial dominated.

3. Bring your network with you

More mature candidates bring with them significant professional networks and political “nouse.”  You know who to call for advice and information. They have strong connections and  are able to develop critical relationships and deal with difficult situations with tact and discretion. You are less easily intimidated or overwhelmed in a way that a younger employee might be.

4. Show your loyalty

This generation of workers tends to be more loyal with an increased likelihood of staying with an organisation for a longer period. In the long-term this is a cost-effective option for any would-be hiring manager.

5. Knowledge transfer and mentoring

With significant professional and life experience, an older worker offers the possibility to be a mentor within the organisation. Highlight the depth of knowledge acquired and a willingness to pay it forward.  It’s important to incorporate your added value when pitching to any potential employer. Don’t forget that research shows that Millennials have poorer memories than seniors because they are so used to Googling everything.

Read: Mira Mira … The wider impact of ageism in the media on women


Create a plan for beating ageism


  1. Create your USP: understand your transferable skills, value, and short and medium-term objectives. There is an even deeper bias against long-term plans for older employees.  Own your achievements, the value you bring to the market. You may need a coach to help you with this process.
  2. Address the pain points of any organisation: research thoroughly the main challenges facing the company in your area of expertise and indicate how you can help them address at least three of those issues if they tap into your experience.
  3. Get digitally current: it’s imperative for anyone in this generation to feel comfortable around technology. It may mean investing in coaching or training but your message has to appeal to a hiring manager probably one generation below you, maybe more.
  4. Create a professional image: this doesn’t mean trying to turn the clock back and look like a younger version of yourself. The most important element is to radiate health and energy. This is an area where women can have the advantage to beat more active discrimination against older candidates.  Age for men is about gravitas and elder experience. Women have that too but also their secret best friend. L’Oreal!!  Read: Professional Image Interview Tips for 50 somethings  

Is ageism holding you back? Contact 3Plus now!

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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