I invite you to read this article: Agism is real, and here’s how to deal with it in a job interview.
I have to admit, I was disappointed in this author’s article, even beyond the multiple spellings. The first thing is that she reinforces the basic stereotype assumption that everyone born between certain years is essentially the same. I see too many HR people make this mistake, but it still surprises me. Would you start from the assumption that all people of a certain race are the same, and then you have to convince the interviewer that you’re somehow better than your race? It’s bizarre, but that’s what she recommends you do for your age.
If someone is not going to hire you because of your age, they aren’t worth wasting your time. There are plenty of people out there who will look right past your age, just like there are plenty who will look past your gender, your race, your religion, your sexual orientation, etc. I recommend spending your time trying to find those people rather than convince the ones who are not going to give you a fair chance. Those people are in the minority, not you.
If you use your age, your race, your gender, your religion as an excuse for not finding a job, you are giving those who discriminate more power than they actually command. I’m not saying that it is not out there – it is – but there are substantially more people who will look to find a talented employee at a bargain price.
If you’re not getting jobs, it is more likely that you are viewed as more expensive than other capable candidates, not that you are viewed as too old. If you say something like “I realize you have a wide choice of generations to fulfill this position” you will be viewed as strange, and perhaps someone who sees the world through age stereotypes, and so not a good fit.
What if you say something like: “I’m not one to do a lot of nuanced game playing – I tend to just get to the point. I’m not desperate for a job, but I am motivated to get back to work, and while I’m not willing to work for minimum wage, you can probably hire me for less than you think. That may mean I leave some money on the table initially, but I’m confident, once I’ve proven myself, it will be worth it. Every job order has a salary range; I’m a well-qualified candidate who won’t be offended if you offer me something in the bottom part of the range.”
If you are well-qualified, and they don’t take that, then you saved yourself a lot of heartache, because they were never going to hire you. If you’re not willing to say that, then your issue really is price, not age. I have no problem with trying to get the best price for yourself; just recognize if you are unemployed, that you are not negotiating from a position of strength. As such, you are unlikely to have the leverage to get the price you want. When you are unemployed you are a price-taker, not a price-setter.
People will say it is better to have a job when you are looking for a job. Having a job doesn’t really help you find a job, but it does help you negotiate your price. To negotiate, you need to convince the other party that you are willing to walk away from the table; the best way to convince them is to have a viable alternative and make sure they are aware of it. Every employed candidate has that alternative in hand – their current job. If you’re unemployed, unless you have another job offer in hand, you have no leverage. You can pretend to yourself and to the employer that you are uniquely qualified and so pretend you are a price-setter, but you are not. If that’s what is happening to you, that’s not ageism.