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Age Discrimination--Made WORSE by Neglecting Job Search Fundamentals

A number of readers responded to my recent post about age discrimination in hiring. As we talked, it became clear that while discrimination is certainly very real, many people are compounding the problem by neglecting sound job search fundamentals. Regardless of age, failure to do the fundamental well will kill your job campaign.

If you're sending dozens of responses to online job postings and getting no interviews, you are in good company. MOST people who apply for jobs online get no response, no matter how old they are. Since employers often receive hundreds of resumes for the same job, the vast majority of applicants are rejected.

This is not to say that job hunters shouldn't apply for jobs online, but that such applications should only be a small part of your job search efforts, maybe 10-20 percent. Only apply to jobs that are a really good fit, as it's usually a waste of time to apply for those that aren't. After all, companies use software that screens the resumes with a certain type of experience in mind. If you Don't have that experience, they will most likely never see your resume.

Given that many employers are screening out older workers, it makes sense to use the best strategy and tactics to overcome this. Studies repeatedly show that most people get their jobs from personal connections-so go with the percentages. Spend 80-90% of job search time in a person-to-person campaign. Even the best resume is just a piece of paper or an electronic file. No piece of paper can sell you the way you can sell yourself. In-person meetings provide better opportunities to make a case for yourself-and to discuss how you produce value in different ways than a younger worker does.

We met with a man the other day who complained that he had not been called for a single interview, despite sending out several applications every single day. While he was convinced it was age discrimination, his resume was downright bad. It had no accomplishments and he'd listed every single job he'd held, going back to the early 1970s. Chances are very good that he hadn't been discriminated against at all. More likely, his resume never saw the light of day and is languishing in lots of online databases, as it didn't have the right keywords or anything else that will get noticed by the software employers use to screen online submissions. Even if a human being were to see this resume, there was absolutely nothing that would grab their attention either.

LinkedIn profiles
An awful lot of people, not just older workers, are neglecting LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Some have no profile at all. Others have nothing more than their titles, companies, and dates of employment. Still others have written more, but their copy is dull and lifeless. Poor-quality photos, no recommendations, bland headlines, and lack of keywords are some of the factors that keep many profiles from producing dividends.

Verbal presentation
If you can't articulate the value you bring to a company, that's a big problem. It's not unusual for job hunters to struggle to describe what they do and how they produce value. In fact, it's quite common. Still, it's hard to get hired unless you are able to talk about yourself powerfully. Launching a job campaign with no value statement and no highly-polished stories about your accomplishments is like fishing without bait.

Inept Networking
Most everyone knows you're supposed to network, but many Don't understand what good networking is. For starters, a marketing plan is critical: what companies do you want to work for? Who do you need to talk to get hired?How are you going to get in to talk to them? What will you say to them when you do? And so on.Then, you need to make a great impression so the people you talk to will refer you to their colleagues and connections. Part of making a good impression is realizing that networking is a two-way street.Think about what you can do for the other person, either now or in the future.

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Wearing that tie that went out of fashion fifteen years ago or a frumpy old suit just isn't going to cut it. Be sure you look sharp. Think about this at networking meetings as well. Obviously, you Don't need to wear a suit everywhere, but you do want to look good. Every time you go out in public, you are making a statement about yourself.

Pay attention to the details. I once met with a client just before a job interview. He LOOKED really good, but I had to send him rushing home to change. I could hardly stand to be in the same room with him. he'd just taken the suit out of storage, and since he didn't have a great sense of smell, didn't notice that his suit had an awful chemical smell.

Not Preparing
One woman I spoke to said, "I've got an interview tomorrow, but I'm not going to prepare. I KNOW what they are going to say."  Enough said.

Age discrimination is real, so Don't compound the problem by neglecting sound job search fundamentals.

Note:For more discussion on job search fundamentals, send for our free Job Hunting Report:The 12 Biggest Mistakes Job Hunters and Career Changers Make-and How to Avoid Them. Email me at



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