Let's Get You Hired! 3 Very Effective Tips For The Mature Job Seeker
If you are in your fifties or sixties, I don't have to tell you that you have an uphill battle when it comes to finding a job. Believe it or not, I am helping more and more job seekeres in this age group, and they consistently tell me that they don't feel valued. They say that companies seem to want younger employees. They also say that there is some kind of stigma attached to being this age and losing a job, as if they weren't good enough for the company to keep them.
Look, I've heard it all. And let me clearly state that there is great hope for you. But you need to simply learn how to present and market yourself better. Yes, that might seem like common sense to some, but how you do it -- the steps you follow -- is the key to your success.
How You Start
First, take a deep breath. If you are frustrated, if you are overwhelmed, well ... that is completely normal. As a matter of fact, almost everyone in this age group feels this way at first. Some are more overwhelmed than others, and some take a little longer to get overwhelmed or frustrated, but we can agree that it is disheartening for a person with your level of experience and skill not to be noticed. It makes you feel unwanted and, for some, to question your own abilities. STOP. Here are three very effective tips just for you:
Tip 1: Take Off The Dates
No need to date yourself back to the '70s. A good rule of thumb is: If you are in your fifties, sixties, or even higher, sure, you can include your experience, but you don't have to include it all or just don't include the dates when you worked there. This helps prevent the "age issue" from coming up.
Tip 2: Adjust How You Present Your Years of Experience
You don't have to put all your experience or your complete work history on your resume. The most important thing you want to do is highlight your most relevant experience for the job. You can do that by having a section called "Relevant Work Experience" or even "Recent Work History." Plus, you don't have to put dates on your experience. This is a great way to keep the focus away from your age and on the experience and skills that you bring to the table for the job that you are applying for.
For most people, especially those in the mid-career, I have them put the number of years of experience in their "Objective" or "Career Summary" section of their resume because they need to "up-play" the numbers of years of experience. For you, I would like to adjust that a little. Normally, marketing yourself is about showing the employer the vast amount of experience that you have as a whole. One of the ways to do that is to list the total years of experience. Instead of doing that, I would like you to concentrate on highlighting the specific years of experience in the particular skill they are looking for.
For example, let's say there's a job opening in human resources (senior accounts payable/receivable specialist) and they are asking for someone with 15-plus years of experience in human resources, with specific experience in accounts payable and accounts receivable. Let's say you have 30 years of human resources experience and 20 of those years have been in accounts payable and accounts receivable. Your objective should be something like: "To utilize my 15+ years in Human Resources as an Accounts Payable/Receivable Senior Analyst."
What you are doing is focusing your experience on what they want without sounding overqualified. And what you wrote is true. Yes, you have 30 years of experience, yet "15+ years of experience" is usually a better way to market it, especially when you have a lot of years of experience already.
Tip 3: Remember Your Objective
You need to change the way you think when you are representing your objective. There is only one reason you are doing these tips. The reason? To get you into the interview! That is where you win them over. They can't ask you how old you are. That is illegal in almost all cases. So once you are in the interview, sell them on you and your skills. Remember that they are there to find the best candidate for the job. If you "wow" them in the interview, they will be hard-pressed not to hire you!
Please understand that you need to be prepared that there may be a time when someone tells you that they can't hire you because you are overqualified. It is frustrating. It is wrong in many cases. But it is reality.
If this begins to happen to you, it is a good indication that you need to work on marketing yourself and your skills differently and more strategically. You may want to rethink and adjust some of your interview story answers to include more examples of when you worked with younger people or as a mentor to someone new. For example, you might want to highlight a story about when you taught and trained new workers or when you had a summer college intern on your team and how you mentored them.
Whether you are 20 or 60, it is your attitude that will most likely be a large determining factor when employers make the decision to give you an offer. If a company calls you back and says they didn't hire you because you were overqualified, ask them if there are any jobs coming up in which your experience would be a better match and tell them that you really would like a chance to work for their company. This is powerful and, I can tell you, it has gotten people hired.
This is a part of follow-up that I wish all candidates would do because it puts a very positive and memorable image of you in the mind of the employer -- and makes you more likely to get a call from them. If that happens, the chance of getting that job is significantly higher because the employer came to you. You have already impressed them and they are clearly in your corner.
Lastly, don't get too hung up on age, your years of experience, and how that differentiates you from everyone else applying. You want to keep them focused on you as the best candidate for the job. In the end, you can only show them you are the best for the job. Nine times out of 10, that is going to be the deciding factor, so stop worrying about things you can't control, like a company representative who won't hire you because of your age. Chances are, you wouldn't want to work for a company that does that anyway.
Now, get out there and get hired. Great companies know the value of your experience. All you have to do is find just one.
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