Today is my 34th birthday, so let's take a look at how birthdays impact the job search process.
When you become legally able to work
Growing up in Montreal, the minimum age to work a full-time summer job legally is 14 (it still is today) and I took full advantage, starting my first job working the summer of 1990 in the shipping department of our sportswear family business.
I was lucky that I didn't have to look for that job, and I remember how good it felt to get my first paycheck earning exactly $5.00 per hour (minimum wage back then).
If you're curious, the minimum legal age to work in the US is generally 14 too. Israeli law is similar to Quebec law, allowing 14 year-olds to work full-time only in the summer (Hebrew), otherwise the minimum is actually 15.
When you become legally able to do everything at work
Sometimes, part of a job requires a higher age than the legal minimum, and the typical examples are ones where parts of the job are off-limits to minors. In the UK, although it's illegal for a minor to work in a bar, they can apprentice there.
Changes in benefits
Although this is a very questionable practice, it is sometimes legal to condition job benefits based on someone's age instead of other criteria such as company seniority. This is when people start watching their calendars very closely.
“Also called age discrimination, is stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age”. (Wikipedia)
This is the white elephant in the room, of course.
Since it's based on other people's perception, someone might be a victim of ageism regardless of their birthday. Typically though, once a person turns 45+, the unfair reality is that ageism can become a real problem in finding a job.
Others people's birthdays
What if your profession is popular for birthdays in one country but not another? A friend of mine does balloon arrangements for parties, very popular in the US but less so in Israel when she started out years ago. Luckily for her, the culture has been changing.
Birthday parties and other birthday events are a great place to network and meet people who might be able to help with your job search. Being the friend of a friend can be a pretty strong link.
Getting a foot in the door
Targeting a company? Send their human resources department flowers or a gift for the company's birthday. On the card, leave a message that says something like “Need a great [whatever you are]? Call me!” Even if they don't contact you right away, they're almost guaranteed to recognize you when you followup as the “person who sent the flowers”.
How has your birthday or someone else's come up in your job search?
If you liked this article, you'll enjoy 3 Unusual Tips for a Successful Birthday Job Search.