“Ageism exists in this country,” says TheLadders.com founder Mark Cenedella. “It’s absolutely clear, you’re not going to change it, and you’re not going to change people’s perceptions.” That’s the bad news.
But the good news is there are ways that you can overcome this bias, says Cenedella, who, as the CEO of the world’s largest professional jobs website, knows a thing or two about the job market.
Either you can surrender to technology, or you can decide to embrace it—it’s your choice, he says. “I have met candidates who are defeated by it, hunched over, lopsided, who don’t believe in themselves anymore, don’t project themselves, don’t really show that they have the capability or interest or energy to really do great at the job…But I’ve also met older candidates that just exude energy and confidence.” These older candidates may not understand technology as well as their younger counterparts, but as long as they express an interest in learning and staying current, their age doesn’t have to be a hindrance.
Really the issue is not of ageism but of attitudeism, says Cenedella. And the best way to signal a good attitude and thus stay relevant in the job market, he advises, is to express yourself and your interests digitally:
“Today to stay relevant with the newest generations, you have to have a blog or a Twitter account or some way that you’re showing that ‘expressing myself digitally is an important part of who I am’ and not just sharing pictures of the grandkids with everybody else. Expressing yourself and your own interests is what people can relate to whatever it is. Actually, sometimes the kookier it is the better.”
That being said, there will always be some cases in which short-sighted stereotypes are too firmly entrenched to prove yourself. “Here, the right thing to do is just pick up and move on because getting worried or flustered or angry about it actually isn’t going to help you with what you really want to do, which is get your next job,” says Cenedella.