Job Hunting Tips for Older Workers: Overcoming Ageism in the Job Market

As the world progresses, it is natural for job seekers to face many challenges in the job market, and ageism is one of them. Ageism refers to discrimination against individuals based on their age, and it often affects older job seekers. In South Africa, many older workers find it challenging to secure jobs or to progress in their careers. This is due to various factors, including negative stereotypes, lack of skills upgrading, and employers’ preference for younger candidates.

If you are an older worker in South Africa looking for a job, this article is for you. We will explore some job hunting tips that will help you overcome ageism in the job market and land your dream job.

Tip 1: Update Your Resume and Cover Letter

The first step in any job search is to update your resume and cover letter. Your resume should highlight your relevant skills, experience, and accomplishments. It should be tailored to the job you are applying for, and it should not contain any irrelevant information that may harm your chances of getting an interview.

Your cover letter should also be customized to the job and company you are applying to. It should showcase your enthusiasm for the role, your understanding of the company’s values, and your relevant experience. Remember to proofread your resume and cover letter to ensure there are no errors.

Tip 2: Highlight Your Experience and Skills

As an older worker, you have a wealth of experience and skills that can make you a valuable asset to any company. You should highlight your experience and skills in your resume and cover letter, as well as during job interviews.

When highlighting your experience, focus on the most relevant roles and achievements. Use numbers and statistics to quantify your achievements and show the impact you made in previous roles. For example, if you managed a team, mention how many people were on the team and any improvements you made to their productivity.

In terms of skills, make sure to highlight any transferable skills you have that are relevant to the job you are applying for. These may include leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, or any other skills that may be relevant to the role.

Tip 3: Emphasize Your Flexibility and Adaptability

Another way to overcome ageism in the job market is to emphasize your flexibility and adaptability. Employers often worry that older workers may not be able to adapt to new technologies, work styles, or company cultures. By demonstrating your flexibility and adaptability, you can show employers that you are open to change and can quickly learn new skills.

You can highlight your flexibility and adaptability by mentioning any instances where you had to adapt to new situations or learn new skills. For example, if you learned how to use new software or technology in a previous job, mention this in your resume or cover letter. You can also mention any instances where you worked in a different role or industry and had to quickly adapt to new processes and procedures.

Tip 4: Network

Networking is an essential part of any job search, and it can be particularly helpful for older workers. By networking, you can connect with other professionals in your industry, learn about job opportunities, and gain valuable insights into the job market.

You can start by attending industry events, joining professional organizations, or connecting with former colleagues and classmates on LinkedIn. Make sure to be proactive in your networking efforts and reach out to people who may be able to help you in your job search.

Tip 5: Upskill Yourself

One of the biggest concerns employers have about hiring older workers is that they may not have the necessary skills for the job. To overcome this, it is important to upskill yourself and stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in your industry.

There are many ways to upskill yourself, including taking courses, attending workshops, or even volunteering in your industry. You can also consider pursuing a degree or certification to demonstrate your commitment to learning and staying current in your field.

Upskilling not only shows potential employers that you are committed to your career, but it also gives you a competitive advantage over younger job seekers who may not have as much experience or knowledge in your field.

Tip 6: Be Confident

Confidence is key when it comes to job hunting, especially for older workers who may feel insecure about their age. It is important to remember that age is just a number, and your experience and skills are valuable assets that you bring to the table.

During job interviews, be confident in your abilities and experience. Speak clearly and concisely, and make sure to articulate your relevant skills and accomplishments. Dress appropriately and arrive early to show your professionalism and eagerness for the role.

Tip 7: Consider Freelancing or Consulting

If you are having difficulty finding a traditional job, consider freelancing or consulting. This can be a great way to use your skills and experience while working on a flexible schedule.

There are many freelancing and consulting platforms available, such as Upwork or Freelancer, where you can find projects that match your skills and experience. You can also consider reaching out to companies in your industry to offer your services on a contract basis.

Freelancing and consulting can also be a great way to build your network and gain new skills and experience that you can use to further your career.

Tip 8: Be Persistent

Job hunting can be a challenging and frustrating process, especially for older workers who may face ageism in the job market. However, it is important to remain persistent and keep working towards your goals.

Make sure to follow up on job applications and reach out to companies and recruiters to express your interest in the role. Stay active on job boards and social media platforms to stay up to date on new job opportunities.

Remember that job hunting takes time, and it may take several attempts before you find the right opportunity. Don’t give up, and keep working towards your goals.


Ageism in the job market is a real challenge for older workers in South Africa. However, by following these job hunting tips, you can overcome ageism and land your dream job.

Remember to update your resume and cover letter, highlight your experience and skills, emphasize your flexibility and adaptability, network, upskill yourself, be confident, consider freelancing or consulting, and be persistent in your job search.

By taking these steps, you can demonstrate your value as an older worker and show potential employers that you are a valuable asset to their team. Good luck in your job search!

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