Tech & Work

Job hunting: Put a new spin on 'old'

For older workers looking for a job, age bias (even if it's unconscious) is hard to fight. But there are things you can do to present your age and experience in a way that elevates your personal brand.

For older workers looking for a job, age bias (even if it's unconscious) is hard to fight. But there are things you can do to present your age and experience in a way that elevates your personal brand.

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The only thing more depressing than being laid off is being laid off when you're an "older" worker. It is one of the more unfortunate aspects of our culture — and especially in the IT world — that age can be a detriment in how you're perceived by potential employers.

The unspoken assumption, even from people who think they are enlightened, is that older workers are set in their ways and have a static knowledge set. Of course, this is bunk. But the fact remains that the onus falls on the older worker to dispel this belief.

So how do you convey your years of experience as a good thing? What can you do to present your age in a way that elevates your personal brand instead of being a detriment? Here are a few tips that might help.

First, you might have cut your teeth in IT by repairing IBM Selectrics, but you don't have to mention that in your resume. List only experience that would be relevant to the job you're seeking. This is good advice for any job seeker, but more so with the older ones.

It's tempting to use the word "seasoned" when describing yourself in a cover letter, but that attribute is only appealing if you're a hamburger. A better word to use is "accomplished," backed up with specific examples of projects you've participated in, the more recent the better. "Accomplished" implies that you actively participated in endeavors and didn't just sit back while experiences were "sprinkled" on you. (Can't let go of an analogy, can I?)

One definite advantage of being an older worker is that you have concrete examples of projects you're worked on. Be sure to qualify your involvement in terms of goals met and money saved.

Make sure you're current with new technology. Some old stand-by skills, like COBOL, will still be relevant. But it's important that you show you're up on new technolgies that you may have resisted before, like social networks and mobile technology.

It's good to put forth the appearance of eagerness. You may have been around for a while, but no one wants a jaded, world-weary person working for them. Show that you're open to learning and that the desire to explore new things doesn't stop in your twenties.

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About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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