Don't Let Age Discrimination Win – How to Compete For Jobs With Younger Workers

I can’t say that age discrimination doesn’t exist – it does, it’s illegal, and it’s regrettable. You are competing withyounger candidates for the same job, and employers can miss out on a lot of very qualified candidates if they consider age. The good news is, there are tactics within your control that you can use to compete effectively. Remember, the interview is an opportunity for an employer to meet you and to get a sense of not just your technical abilities, but whether you would fit the competencies (i.e., “soft skills”) required to do the position. The feedback that “we don’t think he can keep up with the fast pace” indicates that the employers had concern about your effectiveness in dealing with a fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment. You can do things to manage this.

I’ve seen candidates of all ages turned down for positions for the same reason. This includes young recent college graduates. They just didn’t convey the sense of urgency or excitement that the interviewerswanted to see. Your job in the interview is to sell yourself. To do this, you need to prepare – and be aware of – how you portray yourself. I recommend recording on video a practice interview; watch how you come across, and have someone critique your practice interview with total honesty. Do you convey a tangible energy that people want to catch? Do you smile enough? Do you take the opportunity to ask questions during the interview? Does your body language show that you are engaged in the interview?

Interviewers want examples from your past that show how you will do in the future. Prepare for your interviews with several concrete examples of how you dealt with tight deadlines, fast environments, and successfully brought things to conclusion. For example:

  • How you met that impossible order deadline (demonstrates quick reaction time).
  • How you were able to rally a team around meeting a time-sensitive task (demonstrates team-building and leadership abilities).
  • Talk about your typical work volume, and how you were able to manage against this (demonstrates ongoing planning skills).
  • How you trained and developed your team to be successful (demonstrates leadership and strategic succession planning).

Foryour resume, I would try to include as many recent professional successes as will fit. Again, what were your accomplishments, and how did you make them happen? Try to focus your resume on the past 15-20 years. Don’t go any further back than you need to. Don’t give too many “tells” of your age on the resume (such as the year you started your first job). Also, are you up on the latest technology in your field? If so, include it in your résumé, so it not only makes you look current, but so that it also comes up in database keyword searches.

Consider your wardrobe. Does your outfit reflect the current trends, or does it need updating? A fashionable suit can do wonders toward making a great first impression.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at, or via the website,