When you're passed up for a position you applied for, it's easy to think you weren't chosen because of a factor like your age. In reality, that sort of thing matters very little. There are, however, several risk factors that could cause an employer to pass you up for another candidate. Here's what they are and what you can do about them.
Photo by Samuel Mann
Forbes interviewed Tony Beshara, recruiter and author of Unbeatable Résumés, who discusses how age and other superficial factors don't really play that much into hiring considerations:
People over 50 think they aren't getting hired because they're over 50. People who are short think they aren't being hired because they are short. There is a tendency for people to imagine that what they are works against them. The question the employer is asking is can you do my job right now and are you a big risk? Most candidates don't think they are a risk. But if you hire somebody who made more money than this, had a bigger job than this, has been out of work for six months, has had three jobs in three years — these are all risks. Some of those risks come with age, but not the age itself.
So regardless of whether you're old, young, or in between, what do you do if you're risky because of your work history or unemployment? If you can land an interview you'll then have an opportunity to actually discuss these problems rather than let them sit in the imagination of your prospective employers.
If you've been unemployed for some time, briefly explain your situation and present it like it isn't a bad thing. You can mention that you've been taking the time to find the right opportunity because you want a job you'll love and can do for awhile. If you've had a bigger job with better pay, you may actually be in a wonderful position because you're looking for something you'd really like to do rather than what will pay you the most money. You'll want to be true to your situation, of course, but if you think about it thoroughly you should be able to find the positivity in what your employers will generally see as risks.