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On a Job Search, Age Discrimination Cuts Both Ways

Among the myriad concerns voiced by senior job seekers who write to TheLadders, perhaps the most acute and consistent is the fear of age discrimination. They're right to worry: While eliminating a qualified job candidate because of his age is illegal, it's all too common and very hard to prove.

In an article titled "Don't Overlook Human Resources," HR veteran Tanjia M. Coleman looks at the problem from the other side: Senior professionals often discount the importance of making the right impression on the HR screener in their hurry to connect with the hiring manager ... especially when the screener is younger or less experienced than the candidate herself.

"Whether the interviewer is an experienced or junior HR representative, always show respect, patience and understanding when describing your responsibilities, job and future goals," Coleman writes.

"The phone interviewer has the power to present you with the key to your success or cause you not to receive another phone call. So forget whether she is a seasoned professional, is in your field of expertise or completely understands your contributions. This is the person holding the stack of cards in your favor or not."

Respect is bidirectional; no matter your position or ambition, everyone you encounter on your job search is important, and underestimating their influence is a rookie error.