Job Search Strategies for Older Workers - Four Tips for Success
Older workers can be incredibly valuable to organizations, bringing experience, know-how and contacts – but sometimes there are negative stereotypes associated with more seasoned professionals. You can overcome negative stereotypes and increase your chances of staying in the game when it comes to the job search – here’s how:
1. Be Honest
Sometimes, older workers wonder if they should downplay their age on their resume. For example, candidates might want to remove early jobs as a way to appear younger. This is not an approach I recommend; I think all relevant experience should be on your resume. If some experience is truly irrelevant, there could be an argument for taking it off, but if you are attempting to present yourself as anything other than who you really are, it will be readily apparent when you get in the door. The same holds true for not including the date of your college graduation. While it isn’t necessarily dishonest, illegal or immoral to do these things, it just doesn’t feel right. Your resume is a statement of fact – a ledger of your experience, and should be annotated accurately.
2. Play-up Strengths
Instead of thinking about how to downplay your age, instead focus on how you can play up your strengths and assets. You truly have to believe that your experience is an asset and express that to your potential employer. Put it out there – you may look to be overqualified for example, but let the hiring manager know that this position is exactly what you are looking for and share how you can add a ton of value to the role. Here are other strengths that will resonate with a potential employer:
- Being open minded
- Enjoying the process of learning new technologies and new ways of doing things
- The desire to do a great job and to get it done right
3. Plan Ahead for Objections
Anticipate the objections someone might have with an older worker and address them proactively; not just in the interview but maybe more importantly, in the cover letter. You need to get past the preconceived notions and biases from the beginning. Answer the unasked questions like, "I imagine one of your concerns may be my ability and willingness to be an individual contributor. Rest assured I never stopped getting my hands in the work and it’s something I enjoy."
4. What’s In It for Them
Give honest answers that highlight what is best for the company. It’s great that this may be the perfect position for you, but what's in it for them? You bring a lot of experience to the role, and can share as much or as little as they like, either way they will be getting a lot of candidate for the money and you look forward to adding value that others cannot.
At some point, any trick you use to take the focus off your age is just that, a trick. When you eventually meet the hiring manager, it will likely be clear that you are older than you presented on your resume, and that's not a positive way to start the relationship. Instead, focus on your strengths, address issues head-on, and be open minded to new experiences.