Overcoming Ageism: Career Tips for Millennials

Yes, unfortunately, it’s starting to happen: the oldest millennials have now reached their early 40s and the millions of ...

Yes, unfortunately, it’s starting to happen: the oldest millennials have now reached their early 40s and the millions of members of this generational cohort are aging right along behind them.

Is ageism in hiring on their heels?


Millennials are now the largest generational group cohort in the workforce, at 35 percent. (There are about 56 million millennials working in the U.S.)

Just a handful of years ago millennials, particularly young millennials, might have been discriminated against in the workplace because hiring managers thought they were too young. Yet that was then.

Now that they’re seeing middle age and beyond in their headlamps, things could well change shortly: A 2020 study performed by the Society of Human Resources Professionals (SHRM) found that “older” millennials (then between the ages of 31-39, who now would be aged 35-42) said they had already felt discriminated against due to their age:

  • 23 percent said they felt discriminated against in the “job application process,”
  • 32 percent felt they were discriminated against when it came to “opportunities of job promotion.”

In addition, nearly half of hiring managers in a 2022 survey “admitted to age bias,” and a 2018 article posted “discrimination remains employment’s ‘open secret.’”

You’re not getting any younger: strategies to help you overcome ageism when applying for work.

With any luck, all of us someday will be able to say “Yes, I’m definitely old) and grateful to be to have made it so long).”

Yet your 40s and 50s – and some would say 60s – are NOT that someday.

You’re going to have to have some kind of income before you hit 62 (the current youngest age you could potentially deal with ageism in the most profound way by retiring/start collecting Social Security payments), so let’s discuss some strategies and ideas to help you combat ageism as you grow older.

  • Emphasize your value proposition.

Highlight the unique skills, expertise and accomplishments you bring to an employer. Showcase the results you’ve achieved throughout your career and be sure to explain how they directly benefited your past/current employers.

  • Stay current and adaptable.

One of the “reasons” for age discrimination is that employers think older people are stuck in ruts, set in their ways, unwilling to – or even incapable of – learning new things.

Prove that you are up-to-date with your industry’s trends, tech and best practices. Invest in continuous learning/upskilling/reskilling to showcase your ability to adapt to change – and that you have up-to-the-minute in-demand skills.

  • Showcase your transferable skills.

Emphasize the skills you’ve acquired during your career that are relevant to the position to which you’re applying. Highlight your excellent communication skills, as well as how well you solve problems, lead teams, and manage projects.

By showcasing these skills, you demonstrate how well you’re able to take on new challenges.

  • Leverage your network.

Networking is by far the most important tool in your job seeker tool belt. Build and expand your professional network by joining relevant associations, attending networking events, and reaching out to peers and mentors.

Networking is the absolute best way to find great jobs. It also can help you find hidden job opportunities and connect with potential employers who value diversity of experience.

  • Consider a skills-based resume.

Rather than focusing on a chronological work history, create a resume that focuses on your qualifications, skills, and accomplishments. This format lets you emphasize how your experience and skills are relevant to the job, no matter how many years you’ve been in the workforce.

  • Address age-related concerns.

During interviews or networking meetings, address any concerns about your age or experience. Emphasis your ability to adapt, learn quickly, and work with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

By discussing your age straightforwardly, you can address potential biases, challenge preconceived notions, and change the narrative.

Dexian knows how valuable highly skilled professionals of any generation are and we welcome your interest in working for us – and therefore with our clients.

If you have experience in technology, business, finance, marketing and other professional-level arenas, check out our current openings and apply to those that call your name.

We also encourage you to register with us, even if you don’t see any positions that fit your goals and experience: our Fortune 500 clients continuously send us opportunities and we often fill them via our talent database without having to post them publicly.