I ran across this article on Harvard Business Review titled, “5 Ways to Respond to Ageism in a Job Interview”. It’s worth checking out.
It’s unfortunate but ageism exists. And there’s a real debate going on right now whether ageism is being perpetuated by organizations or individuals. Meaning, are companies really the villains when it comes to pointing out that age is a factor in employment decisions OR are individuals the victim for not keeping up with the times. Personally, I think there’s a bit of both happening in the workplace today.
Organizations need to realize that older workers bring value. Especially when businesses are really struggling to find talent. Meanwhile, job seekers and employees need to realize the world is changing. Technology is a big part of our personal and professional lives. As individuals, we need to evolve and stay current.
Back to the Harvard Business Review piece. I thought the article had some great interview tips for individuals who are trying to find a new opportunity in today’s job market. Regardless of age. Here are five from the article:
- Demonstrate energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity.
- Adopt a consulting mindset, meaning listen more than talk.
- Express a willingness to work in a non-hierarchical organization.
- Connect with the recruiter and hiring manager.
- Show the ability to work with a diverse group of people.
But I have to tell you, IMHO, the author blew it big time with the suggestion to “look the part”. [Warning: Rant Ahead]
No, the author didn’t suggest that we all start wearing hoodies and Allbirds. That being said, I felt even adding comments about department store styling services, buying some modern jewelry, and getting new eyeglasses were out of place. I thought the author negated all of the useful tips they shared by saying, “It’s not enough to showcase your knowledge, skills, and abilities. You have to look like you’ll fit in.”
As a human resources professional, here’s my two-cents regarding interview attire: You should be who you are. That includes wearing what you want. Wear what makes you happy, comfortable, and productive. My only advice for individuals about their clothing is wear what fits, make sure it’s clean, and don’t offend anyone. If you want to buy some new clothes because you’re looking for a new job, go right ahead. But do it for you. Not because some company – or writer – says you need to. [Rant Over. Thanks for listening.]
I recently learned about a new term called “covering”. This is when organizations hire individuals because on the surface, they appear to bring diversity, but once the person starts, the new employee feels the need to “cover up” who they are to fit in. Take that principle to the interviewing process. If you have to cover up who you are to get a job, how happy are you really going to be once you get hired? I’m not just talking about clothes.
Looking for a new opportunity is a long and sometimes stressful process. Do your homework on the companies you’re interviewing with. Make sure you feel you can be yourself there. Because that’s where you’ll be happiest and most productive.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Denver, CO