Counter IT Ageism with Relevance

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Before his panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Hans-Paul Brkner, CEO of Boston Consulting Group, spoke with Fortune's Daniel Roth about why companies need to start hiring older workers.


He said it's in companies' best interest to keep the right people employed in the right way, something that his company calls "demographic risk management." According to the article:

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Signs Your Resume Is 'Old School'

Don't miss out on interview opportunities because of an out-of-date resume.

He points to the skills that go out the window when workers leave or are fired. And he argues that some aging workers leave with knowledge and training that will never be replaced-because schools aren't preparing students for the kind of jobs that are being cut. Like any kind of risk management, the key is gaming out how certain decisions could bring unintended consequences.

Blogger Don Tennant wrote about the perception, if not the reality, that age discrimination is more common in IT than other industries. He wrote:

It seems quite probable that IT workers are disproportionately affected, because our perceptions of technological change and youthfulness are likely interwoven, if only on a subconscious level.

According to this eWEEK article, older IT workers often are forced to stay babysitting legacy technology rather than be allowed to learn and work on newer ones with rising earnings. Don also wrote that veteran IT pros face myriad Catch-22s. (This ZDNet post professes that older IT pros tend to fight change and cling to those older technologies. As an older job candidate, you certainly have to dispel that perception.)


In the eWEEK article, Vivek Wadwha, a director of research at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, writes that older IT workers tend to have to move into project management or other management roles:

The harsh reality is that in the tech world, companies prefer to hire young, inexperienced engineers. And engineering is an "up or out" profession: You either move up the ladder or face unemployment. ... Why would any company hire a computer programmer with the wrong skills for a salary of $150,000 when it can hire a fresh graduate-with no skills-for around $60,000?

Being considered "overqualified" can certainly be frustrating. But age doesn't have to mean being perceived as behind the times or resistant to change. In fact, the older job candidate must take extra effort to counter such ideas by updating not just your skills and resume, but also your appearance and speech.


Alesia Benedict, president and CEO of GetInterviews.com, told me you actually should leave education and experience off your resume if you think it will paint you as overqualified. That's simply targeting your resume to the job for which you're applying, something you should do with every resume you send out.


And according to this Glassdoor.com post, using phrases like "back in the day," just makes you sound old. Anecdotes from your work at companies that don't exist anymore do too, except when you tie the experience to solving a current problem. The key to any job-winning resume or interview is relevance, according to this 6FigureJobs post. It says:

Relevance is all about what you can deliver right now, better than most, and in distinctive and worthwhile ways.