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Career-Life Times, Issue #68-- Is It Time To Brag About Your Age?
July 01, 2010
I have never personally experienced age discrimination. But I know it happens every day, even though it's illegal (in the U.S.).
It's hard to prove, so the fact that it's against the law doesn't discourage all companies from doing it.
If I had to find a new job today, at age 52, I'm sure it would be difficult for me to compete successfully against younger candidates... even though I'm an expert at job interviews (and appear young for my age... at least in my mind).
Strategies for trying to avoid age discrimination during the job search include:
Those and similar strategies that "disguise" your age can help you land a job interview.
But let's be realistic. All of those efforts may be useless if the hiring manager was expecting--and is intending to hire--someone younger. As soon as you meet in person, your age (or at least the fact that you're not "young") will be obvious and any biases the hiring manager has will be triggered before you answer the first interview question. It's not fair. It's not legal. But age discrimination happens all the time. If the hiring manager's first thought when he sees you is "too old," it's going to be difficult to overcome that.
Difficult, but maybe not impossible.
Consider this unusual idea: Instead of trying to hide or avoid the age issue, promote it as a benefit.
Begin this at the first opportunity during the job interview--such as when asked to "Tell me a little about yourself." Here's how I might respond: "I'm 52 years old, which is 13 years younger than Harland Sanders when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken, 18 years younger than Michaelangelo when he began work on St. Peter's Basilica, and 23 years younger than Cecil B. DeMille when he filmed 'The Ten Commandments.' I've been a hard-working, dedicated employee for 34 years, and during that time I've gained a lot more than job skills, knowledge and experience. I've gained something rarer and more valuable--wisdom. Wikipedia defines wisdom as a deep understanding of people, things, events or situations, empowering the ability to consistently produce optimum results with minimum time and energy. Unlike younger candidates who are still learning from their mistakes (often at their employer's expense), I'm a seasoned professional with a proven and substantial record of success. I spent considerable time researching your company. I'm at an age where I know exactly what I want, and that's to work for you. I value and offer loyalty and commitment. If you hire me, I won't be jumping ship at the first new opportunity. I'll consistently produce optimum results for you until the day I retire, which will not happen for at least 10 years."
That's pretty long and I'd need to spend time practicing it, of course, but I think it would be worth the effort. Volunteering my age right up front would undoubtedly shock the hiring manager. But shock isn't necessarily a bad thing; it would get his attention, so instead of sitting there thinking "She's too old; I hope the next candidate is younger," he'll be listening to every word I say. By mentioning famous people who experienced success at older ages and talking about the benefits that come with age and wisdom, I may even get him to reconsider his assumption that younger is better. Then he'll be more open-minded throughout the remainder of the interview.
And he may appreciate the fact that, unlike all the other older candidates, I didn't try to be deceptive about my age.
If you believe you are already being rejected because of your age, what have you got to lose by trying this unusual strategy? If it fails, you'll really be no worse off. But if it works, you'll be hired because of your age--wouldn't THAT be a nice change?
A survey of hiring managers shows the most common reasons why candidates don't get the job. If you see your own traits on this list, it's time for some self-improvement!
1. Poor communication
2. Ill-prepared for the interview
3. Vague interests
4. Lack of motivation
5. Wrong Attitude
I recentky received an unexpected and humbling honor from eCollegeFinder.com. Here’s an excerpt from the email they sent me:
“Hi Bonnie! Congratulations, you have been selected from our competitive pool of nominees as one of eCollegeFinder’s Top 50 Career Advocates! Your dedication to fostering career building and professional advancement deserves to be recognized, and this award is intended to do just that.”
I'm not reporting this to brag (well, maybe just a little). As they point out, “This award is not only intended to commend the Career Advocates’ efforts, but to provide students and job seekers at all levels a valuable resource to aid in the next step of their professional journey.”
They’ve created a special page for those career resources with lots of links and advice I know you'll find helpful. Go check it out here: eCollegeFinder.org.
As a rule, simple is good.
The iPad interface, Google, popsicles -- they're all simple things that achieve great results.
Applied to your job search, simplicity can achieve great results, too.
Example: What if you identified the people you wanted to work for, then advertised directly to them, asking for an interview?
Do you think something that simple might get you a job?
Well, it worked for one man, Alec Brownstein, an advertising copywriter from New York City.
Here's what Brownstein did: He created Google AdWords for the names of people he wanted to work for. When each person Googled their name, an ad appeared that addressed them personally. Clicking on the ad took them to Brownstein's Web site, which served as an extended resume. Interviews ensued. And he was hired in less than 90 days.
I spoke with Brownstein to discuss his simple plan, and the three lessons you can use in your job search .
How did you get the idea to use Google Adwords in a job hunt?
Brownstein: "It was the summer [of 2009]. I was working at an ad agency, but I wanted to work at Young & Rubicam. I was Googling the creative directors I wanted to work for and I noticed amongst their results that there were no sponsored links at the top and nothing on the side -- no ads."
As someone who Googles [his name] quite frequently, I realized that if there was an ad there at the top of my results, I would notice it."
How many creative directors were on your list?
Brownstein: "I targeted five."
What was the ad that appeared when any of these people Googled their names?
Brownstein: "The ad read, 'Hey, [name] -- Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.' When they clicked it, it took them to my Web site, www.AlecBrownstein.com, which has my portfolio of the work I had done over the past several years."
How long did this job search take you?
Brownstein: "It was a little bit like fishing. I sort of threw some lines out and waited. I had the luxury of actually being employed at the time and I was trying to get a better job. After putting up these ads, I waited for a month or two and responses trickled in."
So, you did not contact people and say, "Hey, Google your name." You let them find your ad on their own?
Brownstein: "Exactly. It's funny because, when I did go in for interviews with these people, they all said the same thing: 'Somebody else showed it to me. I was not Googling myself; somebody else Googled me.'"
How much did all this cost?
"The good thing about AdWords is that you only pay for clicks. The only times my ad showed up was when somebody Googled exact matches. For example, one of the people was Ian Reichenthal. If you were to Google "Ian," or "Reichenthal," it would not show up. Only when you Googled "Ian Reichenthal," did the ad appear. I think I bid about 15 cents a click and the total for everything was about $6."
Now. Here are your three takeaway lessons.
1) Begin with clarity
Brownstein started his search with a list of five people who could offer him a job. It was a simple matter to reach them with a message that spoke to each person, literally, by name.
Contrast this with how most people begin a job search -- they'll work for anybody. But how can you reach "anybody" with a focused, compelling message? You can't.
2) Prove your skills
To get hired as an advertising copywriter, Brownstein wrote an ad for himself. Simple. Brilliant.
Here's how other "guerrilla" job hunters have proven their skills in job-winning ways:
* a software developer delivered a white paper on software development to the hiring manager;
Get the idea? Anyone, with a little creative thinking, can prove their skills.
If you can't think of a way after 15 minutes and want to give up, rejoice. Because that means most of your competitors for jobs will refuse to think creatively, too.
Then, start brainstorming again until you find a convincing way to prove your skills.
3) Deliver your message directly to hiring managers
Brownstein didn't email a resume to HR. He got his message in front of the people he wanted to work for. They, in turn, told HR to schedule an interview with him.
If you send a resume to HR, you are seen as an applicant and herded in with the other 500 or so people who want a job that day.
But if you send a customized message of value to a hiring authority, you are seen as a solution to a problem, a way to capitalize on an opportunity -- or both. Which puts you in a class of your own, with no competition for the job.
The choice is simple, isn't it?
Resource: Guerrilla Resumes are getting people hired in 30 days -- or less. They're proven to work in any English-speaking country. To learn more, visit: GuerrillaResumes.com.
F*R*E*E Webinar: " 7 Things You Must Do to Find Work When You're Out of Work." Based on her popular career titles, "Fearless Resumes" and "Get a Great Job When You Don’t Have a Job," career expert Marky Stein will reveal essential strategies for finding work when you’re out of work. Topics include:
1. Revamp your resume with a power proposition
This one-hour webinar will be held on July 27 at 2 p.m. EDT. Can't attend at that time? No problem! Any person who registers will receive a recorded version of the event via e-mail to watch at her or his convenience. Go here to sign up: Webinar.
The Riley Guide. This is an excellent online directory of helpful career and job search resources: RileyGuide.com.
The Job Interview Success System. Get step-by-step help and a big advantage over your competition with my job-winning System. Read all the details here: Job Interview Success System.
“You learn nothing from your successes except to think too much of yourself. It is from failure that all growth comes—provided you can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise above it, and then try again.”
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