5 Tips to Beat the Gray Ceiling: Get Hired at 50+ Part 1

Ambro  older woman archetect I don’t remember where I heard or read this story, but it sets the stage for this blog and the one that follows.  It seems that a man was going to see a career coach about his difficulty finding a job.  He was over 50 and felt the gray ceiling hovering over him.  As the man sat down in a chair, he groaned audibly and grimaced.   No sooner had the man sat down, the career coach told the man to go home and don’t come back until he could sit in a chair without groaning.

The man left and returned a few weeks later, this time he sat down in the chair without a sound or grimace.  Now they could work on the job search strategy.   He had removed the biggest deterrent from getting hired.

If you are over 50 and are looking for a job but feel like your age is working against you, you‘re not alone.  There is a subtle or not so subtle gray ceiling that prevents you from getting hired.  You experienced the gray ceiling if you have been told you are overqualified.  Or maybe you are not the “right fit”.  Those two terms are used to tell a candidate they didn’t get hired.  Both are vague and in this litigious time can’t be quantified. 

If you are discriminated against by a company for your age, do you honestly want to fight it?  Even if you could fight it successfully, the company culture would be hostile toward you. Rather than go through that and then find yourself in a job search with a stigma against your name, concentrate on companies that welcome older workers.  Every year AARP publishes a list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50.  The entire list will appear tomorrow at the end of the 5 Tips to Beat the Gray Ceiling: Get Hired at 50+  Part 2


The 5 tips you  to get hired if you are over 50 are use your network, stay informed, age proof your resume and cover letter, prove yourself in the interview, and update your appearance and look healthy. These tips will help you compete in today’s job market.


Networking is the most effective way to a new job.  Regardless of your age, networking is responsible for over 80% of all obtained jobs.  Network with friends, relatives, former colleagues, former managers, customers, suppliers, competitors, and people you come in contact with every day.  Manage your network with LinkedIn.

Coming up tomorrow learn how to stay informed and current, age proof your résumé and cover letter, prove yourself in the interview, and update your appearance and look healthy. Along with the list of 50 Best Employers for Workers Over 50.

14 Comments to "5 Tips to Beat the Gray Ceiling: Get Hired at 50+ Part 1"

  1. Bob Prosen's Gravatar Bob Prosen
    January 14, 2013 - 3:35 pm | Permalink

    If you’re +50 you have a choice. Let your age stand in your way or use it to your advantage!

    I’ve hired hundreds of employees of all ages over the past 30 years and the key to getting hired, whether or not there is an opening, is to customize your approach. If not, you won’t stand out or get that all-important interview.

    Companies hire people to solve problems (both positive and negative). Your ability to uncover your target employers problems and position yourself as the solution is what will get you hired – even when there are no job postings.

    Here are just a few potential problem areas many employers face. Completing projects on time and on budget, improve product quality, improve customer service, increase sales, reduce costs, enhance online marketing effectiveness, etc.

    Once you isolate a problem area, where you have some experience, identify the hiring manager and focus your personalized marketing campaign on delivering answers and recommendations to help the hiring manager solve that problem.

    One benefit of age is that it comes with experience. You’re able to isolate problems quicker and more accurately and develop well founded proven solution far better than those with less experience.

    Done well will lead to an interview!

    Bob Prosen
    The Prosen Center
    for Business Advancement

  2. Greg Wilkerson's Gravatar Greg Wilkerson
    January 13, 2013 - 11:42 am | Permalink

    Good, useful tips Arleen. Ageism is an issue still out there for many of us in transition. Your attitude in front of the hiring manager or recruiter can be a definite asset or deficit to you in these situations. It can support the view of how old you are and come across to people or it can showcase that, while some gray hair is very evident, you still have the energy needed, along with the added bonus of experience, knowledge and the wisdom that comes with going through those experiences.
    I don’t expect this upcoming search to be an easy one but I have enough obstacles to know that I should not be one of them.

  3. David Hunt's Gravatar David Hunt
    January 13, 2013 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    I understand the “groaning” part. Somewhat. What if the guy had just had an operation? What if he had a chronic condition that made movement or sitting uncomfortable?

    It’s a sad comment on our society that experience, perspective, and wisdom are no longer valued in an employee.

  4. Nancy Kay's Gravatar Nancy Kay
    January 12, 2013 - 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I am about to turn 50 so definitely was interested in this article. I will probably need to find a job soon to supplement my self-employment income and I dread the thought of putting myself through that again since I job hunted constantly for legal jobs in a flooded job market 2 yrs before starting my business one year ago.

  5. Andrew Milburn's Gravatar Andrew Milburn
    January 12, 2013 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

    A great post full of information that people can take hold of and take action on. Thanks

  6. Marilyn J. Rowland's Gravatar Marilyn J. Rowland
    January 12, 2013 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Loved the groaning story. I have probably gotten all my jobs through the newspaper classified ads, rather than networking, but I have always also worked freelance (sometimes full-time, sometimes in addition to other jobs), where networking has played a role. I work for clients I never meet and who don’t know how old I am, which is a plus.

  7. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    January 12, 2013 - 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Networking!! Yes, I think that’s the answer for most anything we need in life but certainly the ‘who you know’ is important here…..So thankful that I will never be looking for a job again 🙂 My boss loves me and she’ll never fire me and never lay me off ~ another perk to entrepreneurship!

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