5 Ways to Smash Stereotypes of Jobseekers over 50


If you are in a job search over the age of 50, chances are you have encountered challenges due to conscious or unconscious biases based on perceptions of the more mature worker. Some of these beliefs may include; you have an antiquated skill set, you exhibit lower drive and initiative or that you may not stick around and be worth the company’s investment in training. Below are strategies to better understand how to highlight your strengths and counter negative images of a seasoned worker. When you feel empowered, it shows!

  • Build a dynamite LinkedIn profile: Nothing says, “I’m not current” like a weak or non-existent LinkedIn profile. When you submit an application and resume to an employer, your LinkedIn profile will be also be viewed. Make sure you have a sharp, professional profile photo, an engaging tagline, summary and experience. Don’t recreate your entire resume on your LinkedIn page. Use an easily readable format, highlighting awards and accomplishments.
  • Be a subject matter expert: Demonstrate you can bring new and relevant expertise to an organization. Read, take classes, and participate in networking groups. Be able to show you are a person in-the-know and how you can help the company achieve its organizational goals.
  • Don’t forget to smile: Regardless of age, being unemployed can truly drain confidence. If you are an older worker, it is important to guard against appearing tired or lacking energy. Nervousness often gives the face an overly stern or tense expression. It is amazing how a bright smile and great posture projects self-assuredness, strength and enthusiasm.
  • Look good, feel good: Like it or not, physical appearance affects how up-to-date you present even with skills and abilities. Are your eyeglasses, interview suit and haircut from this century? This is an investment you cannot afford to ignore. Looking good and feeling good will help you exude more competence and confidence and can help an employer focus less on age and more on relevant hiring criteria.
  • Name it, own it: Do you feel your age is the “elephant in the room”? Find a way to sell yourself in the interview using this to your advantage. For example, employers know “Boomers” have a great work ethic and are loyal employees. Through your research you learn a company with which you are interviewing has struggled with turnover. Highlight that you value a long-term relationship with an employer and reference work history if supports this statement.

Lisa Grottodden is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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richard regan

The US Merit Systems Protection Board in a January 2015 report concluded that based on a 2011 survey of 10,000 federal government Human Resource professionals, that Uncle Sam may be biased in his hiring practices.

Some of their findings include:
• Overreliance on special hiring authorities that limit the size and composition of applicant pools.
• Misuse of hiring flexibilities by managers selecting favored candidates.
• Human resource professionals seeing their role as customer service agents to supervisors as opposed to protectors of merit and opponents of prohibited personnel practices.

In a General Accounting Office Report 16-521, the GAO found that in 2015, the entire federal government relied on just 20 hiring authorities for 91% of all federal hires. Veterans and persons with disabilities preference hiring authorities dominated these hiring actions.


I agree with Richard. I was laid off for the first time ever over 50. It was very difficult for me just getting a job interview and when I did I could tell my body language and expressions, I was not going to be hired because of age. I have over 20 years in finance and accounting, degree, expertise and none of that matter. I am now working for Montgomery County Government and was hired at 57 only because I had veterans preference (thank G od for that). However, they were impressed by my years of service in accounting, but if they had a choice I would not have been selected. I see it everyday. Hiring people because of preference not expertise.


In 2010 I was laid off after 31 years working for the same municipal government. With 31 years of service, I had the LEAST amount of years of service among my specific work area peers who also got laid off – about 10 of us. Easy to see what the “plan” was from the employers standpoint. They tried to get me to sign a “waiver” saying that I was retiring at age 57 – I refused.
After numerous rejections (I know age was a factor in many) I was offered a position a year later in 2011, for a major university. Since being hired, I have been promoted a few times, and have a higher salary than when I was laid off.
I was fortunate in that my current employer and my direct managers recognized the value of my experience, longevity-loyalty, and the maturity which I brought to the organization. Since being hired 6 years ago, they have recognized and rewarded me for these, which didn’t happen much in my past positions. I’m in a better place, even though I am in the latter years of a career. I don’t see retirement anytime soon since I am happy with my current situation, and don’t feel like I want to stop working and learning.
The strategies described in this article are very relevant to people who find themselves looking for a new career in their 50’s – or 60’s ! We have a lot to “bring to the table.”