Want to learn how to combat ageism by using a few simple phrases? If so, read on...
Small changes can create big outcomes. Nowhere is this more evident than in a job search. Despite the fact that ageism is a pervasive, albeit mostly silent, deterrent to finding work, there are several helpful phrases older applicants can use to openly address and diffuse the age factor. In fact, such simple phrases will help you render ageist preconceptions less deadly and underscore your suitability as a candidate with promise and potential.
The following are three super one-liners that will make a big difference in your chances for success:
"Ongoing professional development"
One of the biggest negative preconceptions about older applicants is that their skills -- especially technical skills -- are outdated. Younger employers are likely to assume that you are set in your ways, no longer committed to taking on new challenges and are basically just putting in time until retirement.
Using the phrase, ongoing professional development, on your resume and when you interact with people in your network can turn these attitudes around. You want to proactively let people know that you are actively pursuing classes and other learning opportunities, and that keeping your skill set cutting edge is important to you. By openly expressing your commitment to lifelong learning, you will be able to assuage any doubts as to your ability to compete.
You will find ways to best use this one-liner in my Huff/Post 50 piece entitled, "The Simple Phrase That Packs a Wallop."
"At this time in my career..."
Another big deterrent to landing the job is the perception that you are overqualified for the position and are planning to jump ship when something better comes along. You can diffuse this situation by proactively stating that, at this point in your career, you have realized which aspects of your work give you the greatest pleasure. Many times, key elements to reaping satisfaction from your job are no longer found in hard-driving, managerial positions. A lower paying, less visible position might well be one that you would prefer.
In fact, you might find your greatest fulfillment in jobs where you work with your hands to create a tangible reward from your efforts. Or you might find greater meaning in positions where you have the ability to directly impact the lives of others. Perhaps a job with less responsibility, greater time freedom and more flexibility is one that you are now looking to find. Whatever your personal drivers are, at this time in your career, your values have shifted.
For more tips on how best to use this phrase, take a look at my post on "4 Ways to Overcome the Overqualified Objection."
"My goal is to make YOU look good..."
Younger interviewers often feel threatened by an older applicant's skills and experience. They are likely to come to the conclusion that you will be resistant to taking direction from someone with less experience and fewer years on the job. As a seasoned applicant, you have no choice but to address this perception and diffuse any perceived threats to their authority. Although these concerns will remain unspoken, they will be deal breakers for sure.
Therefore, make it very clear that you have reported to younger bosses in the past and it was never an issue. (Of course, you need to be truthful. However the actual age difference between you and a younger boss does not require detailed clarification. Each of us has reported to someone younger in one position or another.)
You also want to stress that you are aware that every job brings new challenges and opportunities for growth. You are eager to learn and contribute. You also want to let them know that your goal is to add value to their team and support their efforts as your superior. In other words, you want to make them look good.
To see ways to proactively handle the negative preconceptions that younger interviewers may hold, check out my post entitled, "Younger Job Interviewer? Blast Away Their Age-Related Objections!"
These three one-liners, although seemingly an everyday part of any job interview or networking conversation, can be powerful if you deliver from a position of strength. Let them know that you are a candidate who brings the unique combination of strong skills and experience along with a strong desire to contribute as part of a team. Make sure your age and experience are perceived as valuable assets -- not threats to be avoided.
So choose your words wisely and deliver them with conviction. Present yourself with confidence and anticipate success. Using the right one-liners can go a long way to turning you into a candidate who is attractive and powerful -- and one who will appeal to employers of all ages!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!