Clients over the age of 50 are often nervous that their age is going to be a liability in the job market because they are too close to retirement. Candidates under the age of 25 are afraid they won’t be able to convince employers that they have a depth of experience. I have never run in to a situation where an employer has refused a candidate because of their numeric age. I have, however, run in to employers who are sensitive to what that age may mean for the person’s ability to blend in to the organization.
Whether you are 18, 25, 35, 45 or 105, you can either be up on the current trends and information in your industry or you can be out of touch. That mistake knows no age. Also, at any age you may have personality distinctions that make it hard for others to feel comfortable bringing you in to their “fold”. But if you fall in to two age groups, an employer may be more alert for signs that you are not current with your information or may not blend in to the group. Employers will look more closely at 18 and 25 year olds because they may be too young to know all they need to know for a position and may have generational characteristics that won’t blend with other, more senior, employees. Similarly, candidates over the age of 50 may be looked at more closely, particularly when they come off a long tenure with one employer (which increases the likelihood of a lack of investment in to new experiences and training).
Ageism? Maybe. Reality? Yes. Smart? Absolutely.
For those people in the age group of 30 – 50, assumption OF knowledge will be made if there is experience that indicates a likelihood of the knowledge. Employers who interview well will take the time to test that assumption, but the assumption is in the candidate’s favor. Only through the candidate’s own answers can the assumption be broken or tainted. Those in the 18 – 29 and 50+ age groups may run in to the opposing situation – an assumption OF A LACK OF knowledge. They must use the resume, cover letter and interview to assert their assets and break the assumption.
Put succinctly, a candidate in the under 30 or over 50 age ranges must strategically show they are relevant and relatable. Relevant means that the candidate’s knowledge, experience and skills are current and applicable to the employer’s needs. Relatable means that the candidate’s communication skills, professional persona (appearance and style), and personality will be relatable to a coworkers of any age. If a candidate can show he is relevant and relatable, any age can be turned in to an asset.