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Discrimination because of age; it is illegal, and regrettably, inevitable.

“No one will hire me.  I have good skills and a good record but I am having trouble to even get someone to acknowledge that I submitted a resume,” a 58-year-old healthcare executive told me recently.  “The younger kids are getting the jobs, moving up and taking the jobs I want.  I am scared to death that I will not be able to find another job in my field and I am too young to retire. I do not want to retire.”

age discriminationAge should be an advantage, not a liability.

The truth is that older executives worried about the “competition” from younger generations who are eager to move up, need to stop and rethink their fears.  You are more knowledgable and more experienced than at any point in your career.  That should give you a winning advantage unless, of course, you have not effectively managed your career, adapting to dramatic changes in the marketplace and taking care of yourself physically.

In this context, there are two, and only two, types of senior executives: those who have adapted their approach — everything from digital technology, social media and leadership styles — versus those who believe they should be able to get by on who they are and what they have done without the aggravation of all those inconvenient and uncomfortable changes.

So let’s look at the rest of the story on my second paragraph example.  He thought social media was a play toy for kids.  He could see little or no value in LinkedIn, he was old-school in his approach to overseeing an organization and, last but not least, he looked and acted like someone who was past his prime.  He had admittedly gained a little weight — by little I am guessing 30 to 40 pounds — his wardrobe was decidedly out-of-date 1990s — and his level of energy could best be described as lacking luster.

When you start talking about packaging, his appearance and career story were less than compelling.

Consider this: some age discrimination is overt and atmospheric — the recruiter is dissuaded by appearance, lack of energy and a major knowledge deficit in “new technology” that is composed of social media sites, use of smartphones and mobile apps, etc.  Other forms of age discrimination are more subtle and insidious — a deep belief by employers or their agents that older people can’t hack it in today’s brave new world and that they won’t even acknowledge receipt of the resume, regardless of “how with it” and on top of his or her game that older candidate is.

If you are not up to date — physically, mentally and digitally — you make it easy for recruiters to discriminate.