How to Conquer Age Bias in the Sales Job Search

The art of the sell has no age limit. Prove your worth with these helpful hints.

Inching closer towards retirement, but still looking for a new gig? You’re not alone.

In a survey conducted by AARP of working professionals aged 45 to 74, seven in ten respondents plan to continue working throughout retirement. Of those surveyed, 64% claimed to have experienced ageism at their current place of business or when looking for a new position.

In an ever-changing job market where digital media is slowly eradicating transitional business practices, relevant experience is essential. But at what age does experience start to play against you in the eyes of corporate recruiters?

Experiencing age bias when looking for new sales opportunities? Try these tips:

Search outside the box.

Instead of targeting Fortune 500 corporations and large sales firms, try looking to smaller companies and startups when searching for sales positions.

Although most people associate startups with young talent, new ventures often need experienced voices to help guide the team and direct sales efforts. Smaller, more niche organizations are more likely to value experience and specialized skills than intangibles such as age.

How to get the gig: Emphasize the unique skills that would benefit the target company and the actual outcomes achieved in previous roles on your resume. How much did you increase revenue? How many new clients did you bring in? Highlight varied experiences and additional areas of expertise to prove you can juggle multiple responsibilities and improve the efficiency of specific areas of your branch.

Maintain your relevance.

Employers are looking for competitive professionals who think quickly on their feet, especially in sales— traits typically associated unjustly with younger candidates.

According to a survey by Elance-oDesk, 82% of hiring managers feel Millennials are more skilled with technology. 60% feel Millennials learn faster, and 57% feel they are more likely to think of new ideas than their senior counterparts.

How to get the gig: Before applying for positions, focus on your online presence. Not only will social media and professional networks help you discover more opportunities, they will also demonstrate to employers that you understand technology and are willing to adapt to digital advancements.

Keep an open mind.

Some employers may dismiss older candidates fearing that senior professionals aren’t a good “cultural fit” with a younger, digitally-affluent sales team. It’s important not to be discouraged.

In the aforementioned study of hiring managers published by Elance-oDesk, 55% of hiring managers said they prioritize hard skills over personality when making hiring decisions. Being in the workforce longer than your younger associates gives you the advantage. Personality may lead the impression, but it’s the hard skills that determine your value to a recruiter.

How to get the gig: Never let age affect your outlook towards an employer or your attitude about a certain position. When interviewing, arrive with an open mind and show the employer your age is a sign of your wisdom and won’t cause friction in the workplace.

Have you encountered age bias in your sales job search? How did you overcome it? Leave your thoughts below.