Career & Success

Peer to Peer: How to Beat Ageism in the Job Market

Elizabeth Atcheson, MBA ’86, offers advice to people over 50 looking for a career change.

September 29, 2022

| by Dave Gilson
A colorful illustration of two people shaking hands; one is an older woman. Credit: Illustration by Lucy Jones

Your professional experience and personal network are valuable assets. | Illustration by Lucy Jones

“I know ageism is real because I experience it side by side with my clients,” says Elizabeth Atcheson, MBA ’86, of Blue Bridge Career Coaching. While age discrimination is illegal, it still presents a serious obstacle to people over 50 looking for a new job.

“I think of career transition and job search as a bridge that you cross,” Atcheson says. “What ageism means is that it will take you longer to get across the bridge.” Here’s some of her advice for getting there, as presented at a recent workshop sponsored by Alumni Career Services:

Younger applicants do not have a big personal and professional network. You have something they don’t have.
Elizabeth Atcheson

Know the Field

Take some time to reflect before you plunge into the job market. Do your homework to identify a growing field where you can provide the most differentiated value.

Tap into Your Network

Here your experience is a real advantage. “Younger applicants do not have a big personal and professional network. You have something they don’t have, and it is probably your single most powerful asset,” Atcheson says.

Upgrade Your Resume

Disprove the stereotype of older people not being tech-savvy by frontloading digital skills on your resume. And your email address shouldn’t evoke the first dot-com boom: “If you have an AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail [account], it’s time to get a new one.”

Keep on Learning

Take classes and ­certificate courses to pick up new skills. “It shows that you’re someone who’s always learning, and this is a really valuable way to combat ageism.”

Look Sharp

Put a dynamic, ­smiling photo on your ­LinkedIn page. Wear comfortable, current clothes that will make you feel confident in interviews. If you’ve got some gray, consider coloring it. (“You can always let it grow back.”)

Be Strategic and ­Persistent­

“Remember,” Atcheson says, “that your age and your wisdom actually give you the ability, the patience, the insight, and even the stamina to outwit ageism.”

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