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Peer to peer: How to beat ageism in the job market

Elizabeth Atcheson, MBA '86, offers advice to people over 50 looking for a career change

Published: Mar 13, 2023 02:20:16 PM IST
Updated: Mar 13, 2023 02:40:28 PM IST

Peer to peer: How to beat ageism in the job marketAgeism presents a serious obstacle to people over 50 looking for a new job Image: Shutterstock

“I know ageism is real because I experience it side by side with my clients,” says Elizabeth Atcheson, MBA ’86, of Blue Bridge Career Coaching. While age discrimination is illegal, it still presents a serious obstacle to people over 50 looking for a new job.

“I think of career transition and job search as a bridge that you cross,” Atchesonopen in new window says. “What ageism means is that it will take you longer to get across the bridge.” Here’s some of her advice for getting there, as presented at a recent workshop sponsored by Alumni Career Services:

Know the Field

Take some time to reflect before you plunge into the job market. Do your homework to identify a growing field where you can provide the most differentiated value.

Tap into Your Network

Here your experience is a real advantage. “Younger applicants do not have a big personal and professional network. You have something they don’t have, and it is probably your single most powerful asset,” Atcheson says.

Upgrade Your Resume

Disprove the stereotype of older people not being tech-savvy by frontloading digital skills on your resume. And your email address shouldn’t evoke the first dot-com boom: “If you have an AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail [account], it’s time to get a new one.”

Keep on Learning

Take classes and ­certificate courses to pick up new skills. “It shows that you’re someone who’s always learning, and this is a really valuable way to combat ageism.”

Also read: When a vacation isn't enough, a sabbatical can recharge your life—and your career

Look Sharp

Put a dynamic, ­smiling photo on your ­LinkedIn page. Wear comfortable, current clothes that will make you feel confident in interviews. If you’ve got some gray, consider coloring it. (“You can always let it grow back.”)

Be Strategic and ­Persistent­

“Remember,” Atcheson says, “that your age and your wisdom actually give you the ability, the patience, the insight, and even the stamina to outwit ageism.”

This piece originally appeared in Stanford Business Insights from Stanford Graduate School of Business. To receive business ideas and insights from Stanford GSB click here: (To sign up : https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/about/emails ) ]

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