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Job Doc

Make sure your job search is age appropriate

Q. I am a mature job seeker in a long-term job search. I applied for an internship I found on Craigslist at a biotech start-up. I have experience in the field.

I got an interview. They wanted website, white paper, PR, and business plan help. I have this experience and it seemed like a perfect match. The head of the company told me he’d make a quick decision.

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Fast forward. I got an e-mail saying he wouldn’t hire an intern. A few days later I saw an ad for the same job, only jazzed up to appeal to a younger crowd. I would love to find a way to let these people know that this was handled poorly. What are my options?

A. Many job seekers feel they have been treated poorly. It is frustrating and upsetting and many employers do not recognize the impact of their actions. At the same time, job seekers’ expectations and assessment of their skills can be unrealistic.

Internships, for the most part, are designed for students and recent graduates. The movies may show experienced professionals worming their way into valuable internships, but that is not the expectation of most employers. Companies don’t react well to surprises, which is what you were when you arrived for the interview.

Your resume may have left off experience or dates, a strategy some mature workers try. The company recognized it was not getting the candidates it wanted, so it revised the ad.

Rather than taking your frustration out on this employer, revamp you job search. With experience in biotech, investigate professional associations. Start with the Massachusetts Biotech Council, which has job listings and programs for people seeking opportunities in the industry.

Have a trusted colleague review your resume to make sure it is not misleading. You may be experiencing age discrimination, but hiding your age won’t get you a job. You need to represent yourself well, maximize your experience, and show yourself as current. Use LinkedIn to connect with contemporaries and network your way to success.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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