How to Overcome Ageism and Feature Your Experience as Asset

Attius Li- Author
Atticus Li
Finding a job
October 8, 2023
Blog Post Feature Image

Navigating the job market can be tough, especially when you're facing ageism. With nearly 3.8 million older workers in the US losing jobs during the pandemic, it's more crucial than ever to understand how to overcome ageism in the workplace.

This guide equips you with practical tips on combating age discrimination and positioning your years of experience as a compelling asset to prospective employers.

Ready for your career boost? Let’s dive in!

      Table of Contents

  • Understanding Ageism
  • How to Overcome Ageism
  • Proving Yourself as an Experienced Asset
  • Ageism in the Hiring Process
  • Leveraging Your Experience for Career Growth

Understanding Ageism

Age discrimination is the unfair treatment of individuals based on their age, which can manifest in various forms such as limited job opportunities or biased assumptions about capabilities.

What is age discrimination?

Age discrimination, or ageism, happens when people treat others unfairly because of their age. It can occur anywhere but is often seen in work places. Older workers might not get jobs or promotions because bosses think they are too old.

They may lose their jobs only because they are older than other workers. According to a study by AARP, nearly two out of three workers over 45 years old have faced this type of unfair treatment.

Some people were even forced into retirement during the pandemic due to their age! That’s not right and it is also against the law.

Common examples of age discrimination

Age discrimination happens in many ways. Here are a few examples:

  1. Older workers losing their jobs. From March to April 2020, about 3.8 million older workers in the US lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
  2. Being forced into early retirement. Around 400,000 older workers had to retire one year after the job loss.
  3. Being overlooked for new roles or promotions because of age.
  4. Workplace jokes or comments about a person’s age.
  5. Seeing ads for “young and dynamic” teams, suggesting only young people can fill these roles.
  6. Missing out on training and development chances given to younger colleagues.
  7. Ageist remarks made during job interviews.
  8. Getting lesser pay than younger colleagues doing the same work.
  9. Firing or laying off older staff first during company downsize times.
  10. Older workers getting fewer job callbacks from employers after sending out resumes or job applications.

Key takeaway: Age discrimination is a real issue in the workplace, impacting everything from job opportunities to training chances. Being judged based on your age and not your skills. From forced retirement to getting passed over for promotions, it can affect older workers in many ways. Knowing this can help you recognize and challenge ageism in the workplace.

middle age man working in an offfice

How to Overcome Ageism

Combat ageism during your job search by debunking ageist myths and boosting your profile to highlight your skills and experience.

How to tackle ageist myths

Tackling ageist myths is key in your job search. Follow these steps:

  1. Learn about ageism. Know what it looks like and how it can show up.
  2. Show you are updated. Stay current with industry trends and news.
  3. Be flexible. Prove that you can adapt to new ways of doing things.
  4. Challenge the myth that older people don’t value challenging work. Show your drive for impactful tasks.
  5. Highlight the fact that you value company ethics more than younger peers might do.
  6. Use your vast experience as an asset, not a disadvantage.
  7. Show your problem — solving skills from years of handling different situations.
  8. Break the thought that only young ones want flexible work hours by showing how you also value such options.

Tips for boosting your profile despite ageism

Raising your job profile in the face of ageism can be challenging but it is not impossible. Here are some tips to make you stand out:

  1. Keep your skills up to date. Show them you can adapt and learn.
  2. Your work history is gold. It shows your ability to solve problems.
  3. Focus on your communication skills. Older workers often speak better than young ones.
  4. Stress on how you value company culture. Older people put more value in this than younger folks.
  5. Show a desire for hard, impactful work. Many older folks like this kind of work more than younger ones do.
  6. Stay flexible with your working hours and conditions. This busts old myths about older workers being stiff or hard to deal with.
  7. Play up your years of experience as a plus point, not a setback.

Proving Yourself as an Experienced Asset

Demonstrate how your experience sets you apart and highlights your value to potential employers.

How to feature your experience as an asset

  • Highlight specific accomplishments and achievements from your past roles.
  • Emphasize the skills and knowledge you have gained throughout your career.
  • Showcase examples of how your experience has positively impacted previous employers.
  • Discuss any industry recognition or awards you have received.
  • Demonstrate your ability to adapt to new technologies and industry advancements.
  • Share success stories that demonstrate your problem — solving abilities.
  • Show how your experience allows you to provide valuable insights and guidance to colleagues or team members.
  • Highlight any leadership or management roles you have held, showcasing your ability to drive results and lead teams effectively.

Showcasing a multi-generational workforce

A diverse or multi-generational workforce that includes employees from different age groups can bring unique perspectives and valuable insights to the table. By showcasing a multi-generational workforce, companies can demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity and tap into the collective wisdom of experienced workers.

Research shows that older individuals prioritize company values and are more likely to seek challenging and impactful work. They bring a strong work ethic, resilience, and satisfaction with their jobs.

multi-generational workforce in an office, a middle aged man and 2 young professionals working on their computers

In contrast, younger generations often offer fresh perspectives, innovative thinking, and technological skills that drive growth in industries like tech. By promoting collaboration between different age groups and leveraging the strengths of each generation, companies can foster a dynamic work environment that encourages learning from one another.

Pro Tip: Age is just a number. Don't let it hold you back in your job search.  Highlight your years of experience as a strength, not a weakness. Show you're adaptable, a problem-solver, and ready to tackle new challenges.  Your experience is packed with valuable skills and knowledge – use it to shine and land that dream job.

Ageism in the Hiring Process

Overcoming ageism during the hiring process requires strategies to combat biases and include age in a diverse hiring strategy.

How to overcome ageism during the hiring process

To overcome ageism during the hiring process, you can:

  1. Highlight your skills and accomplishments: Emphasize your relevant experience and showcase how it aligns with the job requirements.
  2. Focus on adaptability: Demonstrate your ability to learn new technologies and adapt to changing work environments.
  3. Showcase your network: Highlight connections and relationships that can bring value to the company, such as industry contacts or professional organizations.
  4. Stay updated on industry trends: Show that you are knowledgeable about current advancements in your field.
  5. Emphasize problem-solving abilities: Highlight situations where you successfully resolved challenges or contributed innovative solutions.
  6. Present yourself professionally: Ensure your resume is up-to-date, free of typos, and includes a professional email address.
  7. Leverage transferable skills: Highlight skills that are transferable across industries and demonstrate how they can be valuable in the role you’re applying for.
  8. Network strategically: Attend industry events, join professional associations, and engage with LinkedIn groups to expand your professional circle.

Responding in Job Interviews

In job interviews, be prepared to handle ageist remarks and effectively respond to them with confidence and professionalism.

Strategies to handle ageist remarks

  1. Stay calm and composed during the interview.
  2. Redirect the conversation back to your skills and qualifications.
  3. Address the remark directly by asking for clarification or expressing how you feel it is irrelevant to your abilities.
  4. Highlight your relevant experience and achievements that demonstrate your expertise.
  5. Emphasize your adaptability and willingness to learn new things.
  6. Showcase your problem — solving abilities through concrete examples from your past work experience.
  7. Share stories of successful collaborations with individuals from different age groups.
  8. Use positive language and avoid getting defensive or confrontational.
  9. Maintain a confident posture and eye contact throughout the interview.
  10. Show enthusiasm for continued growth and professional development.

Effectively respond to ageism in job interviews

  • Highlight your relevant skills and accomplishments to show how you can contribute to the company.
  • Discuss your experience in a way that demonstrates your adaptability and willingness to learn new things.
  • Share examples of how you have successfully overcome challenges or solved problems in the past.
  • Emphasize your ability to work well with different generations and effectively collaborate with diverse teams.
  • Show enthusiasm and passion for the role, highlighting your motivation to continue growing in your career.
  • Address any age — related concerns directly but positively, focusing on the value you bring rather than age itself.

Bonus Tip: Stay calm, focus on your skills and experience.  Mention how you love working with all ages and learning new things. Enthusiasm is key - show them you're eager to keep growing in your career.

Leveraging Your Experience for Career Growth

Utilize your wealth of experience to propel your career forward and seize new opportunities for growth.

Making a pivot in the latter half of your career

In the latter half of your career, you may find yourself wanting to make a change or explore new opportunities. Making a career pivot at this stage can be daunting, but it’s definitely possible.

One way to do this is by leveraging your experience and skills gained throughout your career. Your years of expertise can serve as a strong foundation for branching out into different industries or positions.

Additionally, consider seeking guidance from a transformational coach who can help you navigate this transition and provide valuable insights. Remember, age should never hinder you from pursuing new paths and achieving career growth.

a middle aged man quitting his job and change careers thinking how to overcome ageism

Experience as a stepping stone for career advancement

Use your experience as a stepping stone for career advancement by:

  1. Leveraging your industry knowledge and expertise to mentor and train junior colleagues.
  2. Seeking out new challenges and projects that allow you to showcase your skills and leadership abilities.
  3. Volunteering for cross — functional teams or committees to expand your network and demonstrate your versatility.
  4. Pursuing additional education or certifications to stay up-to-date with industry advancements.
  5. Taking on leadership roles in professional associations or community organizations to enhance your visibility and influence.
  6. Building strong relationships with influential individuals in your field who can advocate for your talents and experience.
  7. Emphasizing the results and accomplishments you’ve achieved throughout your career when updating your resume or during interviews.
  8. Continuously seeking feedback and actively working on improving yourself professionally.
  9. Being open to learning from younger colleagues, embracing new technologies, and adapting to changing work environments.

“I started my own business at 62 because I wasn’t ready to give up on my passion for baking. Ageism exists, but it doesn't have to define your success. Stay focused, leverage your experience, and never stop learning.”
- Martha Stewart, Businesswoman, writer, and TV host


In conclusion, overcoming ageism and showcasing your experience as an asset is possible. By dispelling ageist myths, proving your value through tailored work history, and highlighting a diverse workforce, you can overcome bias in job searching and interviews.

Furthermore, collaborating with a skilled headhunter can prove instrumental in navigating these challenges effectively. Headhunters have the expertise to highlight your skills and experience, presenting you as a strong asset to potential employers.

Consider the synergy between personal effort and professional support as a powerful combination in your journey to career success. Additionally, headhunters provide valuable market insights, including industry trends and in-demand skills, making them invaluable partners in a job seeker’s journey.

Remember to stay up-to-date in your industry and focus on problem-solving for prospective employers. With determination and confidence, you can navigate the challenges of ageism and find success in your career journey.

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