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Five Tactics for Defeating Age Discrimination in your Job Search

By 2010, labor economists predict that as many as 10 million workers will reach retirement age; too many to be replenished by the shrinking supply of younger workers.* As this first group of baby boomers face retirement, many like you are seeking second, alternative careers.

Research shows that, in addition to having beneficial work and life experience, seasoned workers tend to stay on the job longer, are more service-oriented and industrious, and can relate better to older customers. How can you find companies that value these skills and beat the younger crowd to the job? Read our five job search tactics for avoiding age discrimination below.

1. Seek Out Senior-Friendly Companies

Forward-thinking companies realize the impact that this impending workforce shift will have on their business. Focus your job search on companies that value maturity and work experience and mention so in their literature and job ads. Does position offer flexible scheduling options, such as job sharing, flextime and telecommuting?

Many employers list their benefits on their corporate website. Read the company benefits information carefully looking for clues that they appeal to workers of all ages. Does the company offer benefits such as health insurance and short and long-term disability benefits to all employees, including part time workers? Do they offer, and contribute to, employee retirement accounts?

The AARP partners with companies that value leadership, experience and skills that older employees can provide. See the Career section on AARP.org to view their selected “National Employer Team,” which includes companies in retail, health care, business, staffing, communication, insurance and more. RetirementJobs.com also conducts an “Age Friendly Employer Certification “process to identify employers who maintain policies and programs that support employing people over age 50.

2. Write a Resume that Flaunts your Accomplishments, not your Age

Don’t hide your experience – repackage it. To minimize age discrimination, career strategists recommend updating your resume to emphasize skills and accomplishments rather than the breadth of your experience. Summarizing the full span of your career can make you appear overqualified (read expensive) and outdated. Instead, describe your most relevant positions from the past 10 years focusing on recent accomplishments. Omit early jobs and dates.

3. Stay Current in your Field

It’s important any age to keep abreast of the latest trends in your field. To stay current, subscribe to free online publications and vendor newsletters. If it’s important to be current with technical trends for your job search, subscribe to podcasts and newfeeds via RSS. This shows your willingness to adopt new technologies. Be sure to highlight your technical prowess by correctly using industry specific jargon or buzz words. Consider taking continuing education classes to brush up your skills with popular software packages.

4. Use Online Job Hunting Tools

Internet-based job boards are used heavily by younger job candidates and companies looking to fill vacancies. Use online employment web sites, like SeniorCareerSource.com, to search and apply for jobs like a younger applicant would. Many professional associations also provide online job listings from member companies. Internet job services are free to candidates so you never need to give your social security or credit card numbers. Read the small print about your options to receive additional information about related services. You have the option to “opt out” or be removed from mailing lists. Avoid “work from home” scams that require any upfront cost or advanced fees.

When uploading a resume to an online job board, use a simple, text-based version with no formatting. Include 10 keywords from the job description. When applying to positions online, leave out your birth date. This avoids being overlooked on age searches, and more importantly, protects your privacy and deters identity theft. Checking your email and responding to inquiries daily demonstrates that you are actively managing your job search.

5. The Interview: Act and Look the Part

Thanks to search engines like Google and Yahoo, researching prospective employers for corporate info and product news has never been easier. Google the hiring manager’s name to get some added insight for your interview! When interviewing, employers want to see your interest and ability to work with colleagues at all levels and ages. Avoid the “been there, done that” attitude that often is associated with having years of industry experience. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and willingnesss to train (or be trained) and mentor others.

A suit is still the expected presentation for a prepared candidate even in today’s more casual office environments. When in doubt, dress as if you worked for the company but were having an important meeting with a supervisor or client.

Job search tactics like these will improve your chances of identifying and securing a job with senior-friendly employers, as well as those that value your skills, experience and tenacity!

* Source: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics 2006.

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