10 Ways Not to Seem Old at Work

Colleen Oakley

not old workAs if you don’t have enough to worry about in your personal life as you age (creaky joints, fading eyesight, Cialis commercials actually applying to you), there’s something to worry about in your professional life as well: age discrimination.

A recent AARP survey in New York City found that nearly half of people over 50 were concerned about age discrimination at work. And with good reason. AARP also notes that people over the age of 55 take four months longer to find employment. And according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination cases have jumped more than 40 percent in the last 15 years.

“Age discrimination in the workforce is an unfortunate reality,” says Dr. Colleen Georges, a certified career and life coach. “Often, a candidate over 50 may be thought by recruiters or hiring managers to be ‘too close to retirement’ or ‘too set in their ways.’ Some may worry about a lack of energy or motivation to learn, or even that the over-50 candidate will command too high of a salary. These misperceptions can thwart someone from getting an interview, moving to the second round of the interview process, or moving up the ladder to roles of greater leadership.”

So how can you best avoid being labeled, stereotyped and looked over as you get older? Experts share their tips for looking as young as you feel in an office environment, so that people notice your talent, skills and experience—before they notice your age.

1. Ditch your AOL email account. Since AOL has been around literally since the advent of the internet, it reminds people of those dinosaur “dial up” days and is frequently viewed as an archaic email provider—which can make you look dated as well. What should you get instead? “All things associated with Google are the way to go right now,” says Georges. “I typically advise clients to get a Gmail account. It’s most certainly the ‘in’ email, forever evolving in its capabilities.”

2. Get on LinkedIn. Stat. It’s free. It’s easy, and really, you don’t have a choice, say the experts. “It’s not a luxury anymore,” says Georges. “Those who aren’t on LinkedIn can be viewed as lacking social media savvy, which is a career no-no.” Not being on the networking site could ultimately keep you out of the running for the position—and give younger, more tech-savvy candidates the edge. So get a good headshot and build your profile today.

RELATED: 8 Mistakes Not to Make on LinkedIn

  • Kate Woodhouse

    It’s been an important part of civil rights movements to refuse to try and ‘pass’. If we all focus on suggestion 10, suspect the rest will just fall into place.

  • Merrilee Slaton

    I agree Kate, if we are ourselves then someone will value us for ourselves and our experience. I am 71, have not worked in many years and now am completing the degrees I wanted for many years but couldn’t afford. I plan on working again and am sure someone somewhere will want my life experience and will see it as an asset not a liability.

  • R. E. Maley

    Excellent tips. They’re not about trying to deny or hide your age, but rather how to put your well-earned experience into context.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on how not to seem too young at work — perceived inexperience is a killer!