Finding yourself in Job Search as a more senior candidate can seem overwhelming. Concerns of being ‘un-hirable”, “too old” and unemployable are common concerns amongst older candidates who find themselves in Career Transition.
According to an AARP study, nearly two out of three workers age 45 and beyond say they have experienced age discrimination. If individuals haven’t personally experienced it then they can have legitimate concerns on how they will be perceived by future employers.
In the Middle East, this has been compounded by the cap of age for visa renewals and issuance however in the UAE recently retirement age for private-sector employees has been raised to 65. As the region goes through changes allowing visa’s being issued when purchasing property for instance the age-related issue becomes less of a concern.
If you are in job search and concerned about how you will fare based on your age, there are some practical tips and things to consider to mitigate any biases you may face. Career Transition Services can help you plan and prepare for interviews – one of our Career Transition Coaches have the following tips to help you prepare for concerns that are raised relating to age:
1. Have a consulting – growth mindset
The aim is to position yourself as a peer of your interviewer by a mindset change that enables you to communicate your value that meets the organization’s needs. Listening actively, being curious, having a learning mindset and asking open-ended questions will help you change the perception from ‘need this new job” to having a value proposition that would benefit the organization and help your career transition.
2. Focus on leading with energy rather than leading with experience
Consider your words and what you are communicating. Aim to focus on highlighting your enthusiasm and excitement about a project, rather than how many times you have done this before or how many years of experience you have.
3. Understand the culture & think about how you present yourself
Consider new organizations culture. Is it super corporate requiring suit and tie, or is it more business casual? Could you consider a wardrobe update that allows you to remain authentic but that resonates on some level with the culture? It is therefore important to know what the organizations culture and general dress code is. Taking into account the religious culture in the Middle East are you dressing respectfully and appropriately? In some circumstances for the ladies wearing blouses without covered shoulders or wearing short skirts will be inappropriate and work against you.
4. Watch your words and attitude
Presenting with a humble attitude can help set the tone during an interview. Consider changing the way you speak, for example, move from “managing the team” to “supporting the team”. The perspective change from ‘me’ to ‘everyone else’ can help dispel fears that with your age may come to the old school hierarchical dictatorial style of leading. Acknowledging that you have much to bring with you to the position, but also that you are excited and open to continual learning and growth reflects a teachable and open to change attitude.
5. Highlight your adaptability to working with different groups of people
Working with diverse teams with respect to gender, age, culture is important, so share examples of the types of diverse groups you have worked with. The ability to work with colleagues around the globe with different technical job functions is important to highlight. High performing teams are generally made up of this diversity and sharing your enjoyment of doing so will be positive. We are so fortunate in the Middle East to work with multiple nationalities due to a large number of expatriates in the workforce. Share some solid examples of working within a diverse team and the successes had and lessons you have learned through this.
6. Reframe comments that seem to disqualify you based on your age
An example could be a comment such as the organization looking for ‘fresh young minds’ which you could reply to by reframing the comment in a way that focuses more on what is being delivered that an employees age. A neat retort would be to say something like ‘it sounds like what you are after is creativity and innovative thinking – I have some great ideas I would love to share with you, to position the organization as a leader in the field”. Refocus on your strengths and the value you will bring to the organization to meet those goals.
The key is to work beforehand and being prepared with strategies to overcome any negative bias towards your age. Working with a career transition consulting service such as LHH Gulf can help you be as prepared as possible.