4 Tips to Avoid Age Discrimination in Your Healthcare Job Search

Older doctor examines patient
Carsten Koall / Getty Images

Even healthcare workers are sometimes subject to age discrimination while job searching. Getting turned down when you know you are well-qualified for the job can be disheartening. However, job seekers must remain motivated and pro-active if they want to succeed, regardless of their age or the challenges encountered.

Although qualified healthcare workers are in such high demand, healthcare job seekers still may sometimes find themselves in a situation whereby they are eliminated from consideration due to age.

This may start to occur as early as age 40 for some types of jobs, but most studies show that discrimination increases for those age 55 and over.

Data show that the unemployment rate for those age 55-plus is approximately 3.9 percent — a fraction of the total U.S. unemployment rate which hovers at 5.5 percent. This statistic will no doubt come as a surprise to older job seekers who are still struggling to find work — especially as they compete for positions against younger, less experienced and lower paid workers.

Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker and author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring (John Wiley & Sons), finds that mature workers offer experience and skills that younger workers cannot offer employers. "Mature workers are more likely to stay put for longer than their younger counterparts, thus reducing turnover, which lowers the costs associated with hiring and training," says Myers.

Regardless of the benefits, mature workers offer employers, many face age discrimination when searching for a new job, even in the healthcare industry. Myers suggests the following four practical strategies that can increase the chance of landing a great job at any age:

Maintain a High Level of Energy and Project Real Vitality

This allows you to take on challenging projects, keep up with the fast pace of business, and get things done efficiently.

So make sure you exercise to stay fit, show up early, move fast throughout the day, and work hard. Bring a sense of urgency to everything you do.

Leverage Technology Skills

Employers are much more likely to hire mature workers who can demonstrate strong computer skills and possess a demonstrated comfort level with technology. If your technology skills are lacking, now is the time to get additional training.

Pay Extra Attention to Your Personal Image

First impressions count. Make a deliberate, consistent effort to present yourself in the best light. Now is the ideal time to take stock of your appearance, and update or refresh your personal style.

Pursue a Temporary, Part-Time, or Contract Position

Volunteer, provide pro bono work, take on a consulting contract, or complete an internship or apprenticeship. This will show that you've been engaged and productive, even during periods of unemployment.

"You can't change your chronological age, so don't waste mental energy [worrying] about it. Older workers who understand that their maturity and expertise are true assets are more likely to land the job they want," adds Myers.

In addition to the tips offered in the book, networking and mentoring, or "reverse mentoring" may also be great ways to mitigate discrimination.

Additionally, maintaining an active online presence via social media. Interacting online and networking with Millennials and Generation Y can help you stay connected to the younger workers who are increasingly becoming hiring managers.

Continue Reading