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Our age can be a big concern, especially if we’re looking for a job. Of the job seekers I speak to, approximately twenty-five percent of them have real concerns about their growing age. Questions include, “Is it too late to change career paths? Is it too risky to look for another job? Will a hiring manager take me seriously? What about all of the younger job seekers out there?”

Candidates are smart to at least consider this issue. The interview process is certainly one full of judgements. A job industry where ageism is an issue is professional sports. However, as I’ve watched the summer Olympics, one theme has resurfaced multiple times. Age is just a number.

The first time I noticed this trend was when the news reported that Michael Phelps was coming out of retirement to swim again. If you’re like me, you were surprised to know Michael Phelps would have been old enough to consider retirement. Then, I started to hear stories of Oksana Chusovitina, the 41-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan. On Team USA, a few of the most senior athletes are Phillip Dutton, Bezzie Madden, and Steffen Peters. They’re all equestrian riders over the age of 50.

Competing at the top of your physical game late in your career would seem highly unusual. But, in reality, these athletes have been there and done that. Chances are good that they are wiser than they once were. They may be more disciplined and more dedicated to their sport.

The same thing goes for work. In the way that young people may bring fresh ideas to the office, older workers bring experience and leadership. Each individual has value to contribute, no matter their age. Their contribution simply evolves as they grow and change.

If you’re considering a change and age is on your mind, I encourage you to give the idea a chance. There are hiring managers and companies struggling to find employees with the right amount of experience. You might be just what they’re looking for.

However, to avoid the negative judgement that can be associated with age, work to become an up to date candidate. Ensure that your interview suit and haircut are a current style. Be sure you’re using an e-mail address from a modern website, such as Gmail. Sign up for LinkedIn and use a current photograph of yourself on your profile. If your computer skills are behind, consider taking a refresher course. Update your resume, so it includes your latest skills and is laid out in a modern format.

At the end of the day, age really is just a number. But, like the Olympic athletes mentioned above, you have to put in an effort to be at the top of your game. Looking for a job takes practice, time, and persistence. It takes resilience and a willingness to keep going back, even when the search seems difficult.

As Michael Phelps said, “Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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