Episode #197 – Fighting Ageism in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career, Part 2

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #197 - Fighting Ageism in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career, Part 2
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health Executive Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder, and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life. Stacy is an Animal Health Workplace Workforce expert and a Veterinary Influencer who is knowledgeable about topics related to hiring and career development in the Animal Health industry and veterinary profession.

In today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking again about ageism. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you.

Julea: Stacy, we talked about ageism and what people can do to combat it in our previous podcast episode. But we have some more to talk about this week, don’t we?

Stacy: We do! That’s because this is an important topic in the employment marketplace, even though it has been overlooked for quite some time.

Julea: Yes, that seems to be the case. It appears there are some other issues in the marketplace that are more prominent than ageism. And those issues receive more exposure and are discussed more. Where would you like to start today?

Stacy: I’d like to pick up where we left off last week, specifically with the fact that as an older professional in the workforce, it’s very important to brand yourself as someone who can solve problems.

Julea: Yes, because problem solving is one of the things that employer’s value the most, isn’t it Stacy?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. It doesn’t matter how young and vibrant you present yourself. If you can’t solve problems, then you’re not going to get hired.

On the other hand, if you have a history of solving problems and you can show to a potential new employer that you are a proven problem solver, then your age will become less of a factor.

Think of it this way. Are hiring managers more inclined to hire younger candidates? Yes, some are, as we have already discussed. However, do they want to hire problem solvers more than they want to hire younger candidates? Yes, they do. Hiring problem solvers is more important to employers than hiring younger candidates.

The bottom line is that employers cannot get enough of people who are able to solve problems. There are plenty of problem creators in the world today. Sadly, there is a shortage of problem solvers.

As a result, it’s a good idea to emphasize your value during every stage of your job search.

Julea: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: Well, we’ve discussed the importance of showing your value to a potential new employer, and we’ve also discussed how problem solving is the one quality that makes you more valuable at ANY age. So these are the things that you must emphasize during your job search. You should:

  • Emphasize your value on your resume.
  • Emphasize your value during phone interviews or screenings.
  • Emphasize your value during the face-to-face interview.

Julea: That makes sense, but Stacy, what else can professionals do to change perceptions about age during their job search.

Stacy: We’ve talked about a couple of strategies so far. First, don’t focus on your age. Second, make sure that you’re up-to-date with technology and industry trends.

There are other things you must do, as well, and these involve how you conduct yourself during a phone screen or a face-to-face interview. And of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way in which interviews are conducted for many employers. You can still conduct a face-to-face interview over the Internet, even if there is not an opportunity for an in-person interview.

Regardless, the interview stage is critical because this is where you make your first impression. This is where you start to brand yourself. As we’ve discussed, personal branding is a big consideration in the employment marketplace these days, and it’s a big factor for employers that are looking to hire. The way that you brand yourself is important in terms of how others view you.

Julea: But Stacy, in today’s culture, if you’re past a certain age, some people have already branded you in their minds, isn’t that right? That’s part of the bias.

Stacy: Yes, that is right unfortunately. That’s ageism and age discrimination is all about: other people branding you incorrectly in their minds before they’ve even had a chance to meet you. So when you do speak with someone over the phone or meet them in person, you have to reverse all of that. You have to undo the branding that they’ve already done in their mind, and then you have to brand yourself correctly. Yes, it’s more work, but it has to be done if you want to be successful.

I have some tips for debunking myths and changing perceptions during a face-to-face interview or an in-person interview.

Julea: Okay, that sounds great! What are they?

Stacy: First, be energetic. Make sure that you come across as someone who has a lot of energy. If you’re not an extroverted person, then you must make a concerted effort to be outgoing and friendly.

Second, speak clearly and loudly. Do not mumble or talk under your breath.

Third, be enthusiastic about both the position and the organization. This is important for every candidate who is interviewing, but it’s even more important for older workers. Remember that you are dispelling notions and debunking myths. You’re re-branding yourself in the minds of the people who are interviewing you.

Fourth, smile a lot. You might think you shouldn’t have to do that during a phone screen, but it’s even more important then. That’s because the person on the other end of the line should be able to hear you smile, hear your energy, and hear your enthusiasm.

Julea: Those are all great tips, but I just thought of something, Stacy. Aren’t there certain questions that employers are not allowed to ask during the interview, and don’t some of those questions deal with age?

Stacy: Yes, that’s a great question! Thank you for bring that up.

Keep in mind that a hiring manager is not going to just come out and ask how old you are. However, they might ask the following questions:

  • How old are your children?
  • When did you graduate from high school?
  • How long do you plan to work until you retire?
  • Have you experienced any serious illnesses in the past year?

All of these questions, and others like them, are illegal. If a hiring manager asks these questions, do not answer them. They are all designed to find out how old you are, and that fact is irrelevant in regards to whether or not you can fill the position.

Julea: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to mention one more thing. If you’re an older worker and you’re willing to work on a contract basis, it makes you more attractive to employers.

Julea: Really, why is that?

Stacy: There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, the employer is making less of an investment with a contract position. Because of that, they’re more likely to hire an older worker.

Second, if the labor market is tight and the employer is having difficulty finding workers, a temporary hire will help it to get the work done that needs to get done. That’s the bottom line for employers.

So if you’re serious about finding a new position, keep yourself open to working on contract. Doing so will increase your opportunities and your chances for success.

And Julea, I know we’re running out of time, but I’d also like to recap the points that we’ve discussed these past two weeks in regards to fighting ageism and age discrimination in the workforce.

Julea: Of course.

Stacy: First, do NOT focus on your age during your job search, including on your resume.

#2—Instead, focus on the value that you could bring to any organization.

#3—Focus especially on the fact that you are a problem solver and emphasize that value to potential employers.

#4—Once your value helps you to get a phone screen and/or a face-to-face interview, continue emphasizing your value and at the same time take steps to debunk myths, change perceptions, and brand yourself in the right way using the tips I outlined earlier.

#5—Use current market conditions to your advantage and be willing to take a contract position to increase your value and worth to an even greater extent.

Unfortunately, ageism and age discrimination aren’t likely to be eradicated any time soon. However, there are things you can do and there are steps you can take to overcome it and prove your value and your worth to employers in today’s workforce.

Julea: Stacy, we are almost out of time for today. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, everything that we’ve been talking about these past several weeks has to do with adversity. After all, there’s plenty of adversity in the marketplace right now, due to the pandemic and other factors. The central theme with these podcasts is that you have to focus on the opportunity that exists around you and not the adversity. That is very important, and I can’t emphasize it enough. This is not the time to let your circumstances bring you down. Instead, be proactive and make those circumstances work for you.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. And for those people in our listening audience who are open to other Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, be sure to check out the hot jobs on The VET Recruiter website. Also, for hiring managers listening today who have critical hiring needs, reach out to Stacy through The VET Recruiter website. You can reach Stacy through the “contact us” page. Stacy has helped fill hundreds of veterinary jobs and Animal Health jobs over a span of more than twenty years. She has an Animal Health network and Veterinary network that is unmatched!

Stacy: Yes, for those listeners who want to change their current job situation and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com.

Julea: Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It has been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!