I have applied for several jobs in my field and I am not getting shortlisted despite years of experience. I suspect that my age is counting against me and maybe they feel I will be too expensive. How can I get around this without lying about my age?
You talk about what you ‘suspect’, and that says a lot. It’s easy to jump at shadows and read things into the lack of feedback all candidates get from recruitment decisions.
Yes, age discrimination exists and there are definitely young cultures in some organisations, and it’s best to realise that and focus your energy on organisations with a broader age range in the workforce. This means understanding quite a lot about the culture of organisations you are aiming at, and that’s a good habit – really understanding an employer is the key to a strong application.
Don’t mislead anyone about your age, but don’t draw attention to it either by providing extensive information about jobs you did some years ago or by referencing technology, job titles or even organisation names which seem old school.
Instead, emphasise what you do well in your CV, giving clear evidence rather than unsubstantiated claims, expressing your strengths in language which closely matches what employers are looking for. Demonstrate realism and flexibility on salary, while at the same time emphasising the value you can deliver.
*John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career strategists and author of 15 books on work and careers. Formerly Chief Executive of the Institute of Employment Consultants, John’s expertise as a careers specialist is also sought by a wide range of commercial organisations, universities and business schools. www.johnleescareers.com