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I am Old and No-one Wants to Hire me

It is amazing to me how many people believe the reason no-one is calling them in for an interview is because they are old.  Really?  How does the employer know how old you are in reading your resume?

  • Did you list your birth date?
  • Did you list the year you graduated?
  • Did you list every job you've had since high school?

So, how would the employer know how old you are?

Chances are, they don't want to interview you because you haven't explained in your resume why they should.  Employers are receiving hundreds and thousands of resumes.  Why would your's stand out?

  • Your experience exactly matches what they are looking for
  • You have the exact match of skills they are looking for

  • You've proven that you have successfully done  what they need you to do with their company

Your resume is a sales brochure not an historical account of everything you have done.  Adjust your resume for every job you apply to.

Honestly, I don't believe employers have anything against someone solely because of their age.  It is more likely that they see candidates as "over qualified".  This means:  EXPENSIVE.

The next time you think you aren't getting an interview because of your age, check your resume instead. 

Dr. Rita Carey offers wonderful teleconferences on the topic for those 50+.  See her listing of teleconferences.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Carolann Jacobs March 25, 2009, 10:33 am

    I completely agree with you. In my recent experience working with older workers I’ve seen three things:
    1. They look “dull.” Not dull in the sense of boring. Dull in the sense that they don’t shine. Dull in the sense that they don’t carry themselves with enthusiasm and positive energy.
    2. Many have a negative attitude. You are right on the money with “I’m old and no one wants to hire me.” People feel that negativity and whether they can put their finger on it or not, it turns them off.
    3. Many look old. As on of my attendees put it, there’s 60 and there is 60. Many people don’t believe in updating their look as they get older. They get heavy (which screams “my insurance will be more expensive”).
    The long and the short of it is that people want to hire a person who is vibrant, and that is a characteristic that’s ageless.
    Thanks for a thought provoking article, Hannah!
    Be Your Best You Today,
    Carolann Jacobs
    Business & Personal Coach
    Vivid Epiphany, Inc

  • Great article Hannah! I agreed that most employers equate age with higher income requirements. That’s unfortunate for the employer who overlooks someone who might be an asset to their company.

  • Linda Watson April 2, 2010, 10:47 am

    I have to respectfully disagree. I am 49, but I look and act much younger. I am connected on Facebook, network with much younger friends and am very technologically savvy. But I continually am told that I am either over qualified or told nothing at all. I believe there is definitely an age bias-there is no way for me to say on my resume “I don’t look or act my age”. I have continually tried to stay up on technology while unemployed and even taken unpaid internships just to stay active and not sitting at home. But this just furthers the concept of an unstable job history. I am at a loss for what to do that I haven’t already done. I have even had several people re-tool my resume. I am an outgoing and happy person that has seen negativity come from years of frustration when you do all the “right” things and get nowhere.

  • Career Sherpa April 4, 2010, 6:26 pm

    If you are getting interviews, your resume isn’t the problem. Quite honestly, it sounds, based on what you’ve said, you are doing the right things, internships, keeping up with technology, etc. With so many people to choose from, employers can be quite particular in what they are looking for, and obviously, they are. In another economy, I bet you would have been swept up by now. Patience, this is going to take longer than ever before and definitely longer than you want.
    Staying positive is really important, so take time to rejuvenate and take care of you.
    One last thing, have you considered working on your interviewing strategy/answers. They may have worked before, but they aren’t working now, so you may want to try practicing/role playing with people you know to get their feedback.
    Hang in there Linda!

  • Stephen May 29, 2011, 7:08 pm

    I respectfully have to disagree with you. Most HR folks (and that is where all of the resumes start) are savvy enough to know what they are looking at. They can put 2 and 2 together and get……55! If you had a stable job history (and who does not list a) when they started or b) how many years they were there ) it is quite easy. If you do not supply that information they consider your resume incomplete. BESIDES, most places INSIST on having you fill out an online ap, where you are FORCED to list dates of employment, graduation, military services (and be prepared to explain “gaps.” How can they know it is a “gap” without dates? Come on now!

    • Hannah Morgan May 31, 2011, 5:00 am


      Thanks for disagreeing. Let me clarify some things.
      1) The advice given today is that a resume only needs to go back 10-15 years. This is the most recent and valuable experience.
      2) The resume and application are two separate documents. In most cases, the people reviewing these don’t do a side by side comparison.
      3) HR folks screening resumes and applications electronically use key words to initially filter the most qualified applicants. Their selection of key words are usually those found in the job posting.

      I am a realist, not an idealist. Having said this, I don’t believe employers are discriminating against the older worker solely based on their age. The reason the older worker isn’t getting an interview is because they are presenting themselves as over qualified or under qualified. At the very least, they haven’t presented the employer with the exact skills they are looking for.

      Please tell me why you think an employer wouldn’t want to hire someone 55 years or older? What would be the logic?

      • Stephen August 29, 2011, 12:18 am

        What is the logic? Now you tell me. Employers think we “older” people don’t have as much energy, are not as coachable (NOT true!) and are sometimes intimidated by us. Besides, young people are better “eye candy.” I just lost out on a job for which I was uniquely qualified (Inside sales experience and computer knowledge) to a 23 year old girl with big …..(well that is how it was described to me – I never saw her). Oh, And she has NO sales experience at all, and NO technical knowledge. You tell me what the logic is……

        • Hannah Morgan August 29, 2011, 4:49 am

          If that is the hiring practice of that company, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to work for them anyway.

          There is plenty of information on my site and others about “perception is reality” and ideas on how to overcome “over qualified” or “expensive” or age bias. I hope you can begin reading up on some of this because it is up to you to create the right perception of what you bring to the table! People only see and know what we tell them.

          • Stephen September 2, 2011, 1:40 pm

            >>>If that is the hiring practice of that company, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to work for them anyway<<<

            True…but it is discouraging to know they encouraged you to apply and got your hopes up only to pull the curtain back and find out the boss is a letch!
            It is a long heart breaking ordeal to find an appropriate position out here.
            What you are inferring is that ageism
            is not a real problem. Let's leave it at this. On this we disagree. Someday, you may be there, too. Can I hear from other people who have similar stories……?

          • Hannah Morgan September 4, 2011, 6:30 am


            We agree that ageism is a problem! What I’ve suggested is that you overcome the perception that you are old.
            I can site a bucketful of stories from “old people” who have landed jobs.

            I tend to focus on how to change what we can and let go of what we cannot change. To highlight the drama and stories of those who have been unemployed for long periods of time is not going to help. You are absolutely not alone in your search. One of the best things you can do is to join a job search group or networking group and get the ideas and support from others.

            Best of luck!