Am I Too Old, Or is it Something Else?

Ann, it so honorable of you to make yourself available to help like this, bless you. My question is that I believe I have a lot of qualifications and seem to match up well to job postings, but always seem to get the standard, “Sorry, we are looking at others.” Is my age at 57 a real problem in wanting to change jobs? I get that is not legal to age discriminate, but I believe it is happening anyway, in particular when they ask for my college graduation date. I would truly appreciate your candor on the matter. Thanks!

Ann-Z-newIt is so sad to me that so many people fear that their age is keeping them from gaining employment, especially when they are what I consider to be relatively young.

There are many stages to the standard interview process, and it pays to figure out at which point in the funnel your candidacy is being discounted.

In the typical job interview, you apply to a position via either a third party recruiter, or directly to the company. Your resume is then screened and if it looks appealing, a phone interview is conducted. If that goes well, the second step typically involves a live meeting with the hiring manager. Third step is having additional people within the company assess you, and to offer the candidate the opportunity to further investigate the company culture, potentially doing a ride-along, etc. At this point references are typically called, and then the final step is the offer which is either made contingent on a background check or after a background check has been successfully completed.

As a general rule of thumb, failure to get to the first step means your resume needs work, or you are simply applying to jobs that you are not qualified for.

Failure to get past the phone interview means that either you did not do well presenting yourself, or there were specific skills or experience that they wanted to know if you possessed and decided you did not have the skills required for the job. If this is the case, there are some terrific YouTube videos on interviewing skills that I would suggest to help you prepare for both live as well as phone interviews. ExecuNet career coaches are another great option. 

Failure to proceed past the live meeting typically means that you did match up against the competition, or that they feel you would not blend in with the company culture. Having a deal go south at the final stages commonly means that references did not pan out, or the background check came back wonky. And of course at any of these stages there can simply be a stronger candidate who beats you out due to a better experience match. However, if you find yourself consistently washing out of the process at the same step every time, it definitely bears investigation.

I would also caution you to give some thought as to what other questions are asked in addition to what year you graduated college, which is not a common question these days. Could it be that you are so focused on concerns about your age that you are just assuming that your application is being discounted upon hearing what year you graduated, when in fact it could be the way that you answer other questions?

I hope these suggestions help you, and rest assured that companies hire people your age and older on a daily basis, so please don’t give up on your job quest, and invest the time to determine at which stage your candidacy is falling out, and then work to rectify the issue.


Ask Ann,

Have a question you’d like a recruiter to answer? Write to me at AskAnn@execunet.com



Ann Zaslow-Rethaber

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber

A recruiter since 1996, Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is the president of International Search Consultants, a global executive recruiting firm launched in 1999.

ISC has become one of the country’s most reputable search firms, earning more recommendations on Linked In than any other 3rd party recruiting agency in the entire country. With a team of 15 talented recruiters, utilizing the very best high- tech tools available, ISC can produce highly qualified candidates for companies with hi-volume recruiting needs.

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