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25 Feb How Do You Overcome Age Discrimination in the Job Search?

Olivia Gamber: Okay. Question. How do you … This is a big one. As we’ve talked to several of our clients, it keeps coming up time and time again. How do you overcome age discrimination in the job search?

Kevin Kermes: There are some major misperceptions about age discrimination. One of the biggest ones that it boils down to … Because age is actually the advantage. Replace age with experience. Replace age with subject matter expertise. The problem becomes when you work through this construct of applying online, and you’re thinking about things in terms of how do I best fit the job description? I’m trying to cram in all this experience versus reverse engineering that and saying, “I’ve got 25, 30 years experience. What are the two to three things that I’ve done exceptionally well?” Create a narrative around that and drive that narrative out into the marketplace so that the people who have those problems are coming to you versus trying to respond like everyone else.

It comes back to something you and I talk about all the time which is if you follow the system that exists out there, you position yourself as a commodity, and as you’re trying to respond to all these different things that are on a laundry list for a job description, A, you’re going to get spread too thin. You’re going to be diluted. B, people at the 25 to 30 year experience level aren’t the ones who are successful in the job search, aren’t approaching the market that way and then, C, it’s not leveraging your expertise and not having you stand out as a finely tuned instrument versus, again, applying against these job searches which, let’s face it, don’t really represent most of the time what the actually job, what the actually pain is that’s driving the search to begin with.

How about you? What are your thoughts regarding age discrimination and how it’s misperceived or more of how you overcome it in the job search?

Olivia Gamber: Yeah. Well, first of I will say obviously acknowledging I’m not over 50, but I do think that I have a really strong perspective on this because we’ve worked with … Majority of the clients we have are over 50. What I see is … I’m not going to say age discrimination does not exist. It does, but in many cases that’s not the problem. I think the biggest issue, you kind of hit on it, is … The issue is not qualifications.

I can think of a conversation just a couple of weeks ago, the client who had 20 years of experience doing pretty much everything you can imagine, organizational development, business development, sales, marketing and was just really trying to be everything to everyone. Because of that broad scope, you’ve been at the company maybe, let’s say, 15 years, you’ve done it all. You’ve got that trust in the company to be able to wear a lot of hats. The problem is when you go into the market, you’re trying to be everything to everyone and your message becomes completely diluted.

Just like what you said, the problem is not qualifications. It’s distilling the message to actually position themselves to a targeted outcome. So, that’s really key and it’s easier said than done when you have 25 plus years of experience.

Kevin Kermes: Totally agree.

Kevin Kermes

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