DEAR J.T. & DALE: I was recently let go from my job of 15 years when the company was bought. I’ve been looking for a job for six months and am starting to be convinced I’m dealing with age discrimination. I am in great shape and always get told I look young for my age. However, I don’t color my hair and it’s fully gray. I’m wondering if that’s my problem. Should I color my hair – do you think it will make a difference? – Robert
Dale: No, and no. The problem is not your well-earned silver hair; sure, there are morons who won’t hire older workers, but trying to hoodwink them won’t change anything. Instead, take as a role model the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. Would he have had more support with dyed hair? No. Young people especially loved Sanders, despite his age. Why? He wanted to help them (free college tuition and health care). And there it is, the secret to getting hired: Be the one who is going to be the
J.T.: Speaking of presidential candidates, we should remember that Hillary Clinton is 69 and Donald Trump is 70. So while age discrimination does exist, clearly it is not a decisive factor in everyone’s perceptions.
Dale: And it won’t be decisive for you, Robert, if you consider the stereotypes that might cause a hiring manager to prefer a younger candidate: 1) energy; 2) new ideas; 3) “coachability”; and 4) cost. Your interview style needs to counter the first three of those, at which point the last one will decline in importance. To pull that off, you’ll need to arrive at the interview excited to discuss the latest in your and related industries (that’s Nos. 1 and 2), while coming in curious and eager to learn from the interviewer (No. 3). Do so, and you don’t have to be the cheapest hire.
J.T.: That’s all part of taking a closer look at your job search and interview processes. Instead of you being seen as too old, it could be your approach to looking for work that’s dated. Many seasoned professionals tend to jump into a job search using the same techniques they used years ago. Times have changed. Résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, interview prep – they all require an updated approach, especially the interview prep. Today, employers want team players who know how to share their expertise without acting like a know-it-all or a jack-of-all-trades. Make sure you’re sending the right message.
Dale: Who is the person every boss wants to hire? The one who really listens. The quick learner and the great teammate. The one who finds a way. In other words, the one who helps.
Best of the month
Dale: Every month or so, we like to offer a career resource that we think is particularly useful. This time it’s www.MoneyGeek.com.
J.T.: The site offers a nifty cost-of-living calculator, useful for anyone considering a move to a new city. Theirs not only offers city-to-city housing comparisons, but compares costs of groceries, utilities and other things. It even will compare compensation levels by career type.
Dale: My favorite section of the site is salary negotiation, especially “A Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating for the Pay You Deserve.” (The salary articles are tricky to find: Go to the “Education & Careers” pull-down menu, then choose the “Job Resources” menu.) The article opens with a dramatic statistic from a survey by the folks at staffing firm Robert Half: 89 percent of workers feel they deserve a raise, but only 54 percent say they’ll be asking for one.
J.T.: Perhaps that’s because 32 percent said they’d rather clean house and 7 percent would choose a root canal. Most interesting to me was that 13 percent said they’d rather look for a new job than ask for a raise.
Dale: That’s a shame, when all that’s really needed is the right preparation for a raise discussion. There are multiple factors to consider leading up to that conversation, and MoneyGeek does a good job of setting them out.
J.T.: Agreed. And if you decide to ask for a raise, please let us know how it goes for you.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. com. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. (c) 2016 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.