We live in a time where due to increased life expectancy and higher costs of living, the demographics in the workforce continue to expand and include more people over the age of 50 and up.
- The Urban Institute predicts workers 50 years and older will account for 35 percent of the labor force by 2019
- The Census also projects a 67% increase in the 65-and-older population between 2015 and 2040, when one in five Americans will be 65 or older.
The process of resume writing, job hunting, and interviewing for a position can be daunting for any potential employee, but for the demographic of “older” employees competing in the job market against much younger candidates this process can be even more so.
Your age however does not have to have a negative impact on your search, here is how to address particular issues to leverage your experience and have it work with you rather than against you.
- Focus on Accomplished vs. Seasoned. Highlight your specific achievements with relevance to the position you are applying for with focus on concrete triumphs
- For many older workers there is a concern around knowledge and ability regarding technology. Highlight your Skills/Qualifications in current technology including any continuing education classes you might have taken or specific certifications you hold
- Your experience in the workforce allows you to leverage interpersonal skills younger candidates may not have yet such as maturity, ability to keep a cool head in chaotic environments, ability to lead, as well as navigate natural ebb and flows in business without fear
- Focus on only the last 10-15 years of work experience to highlight relevant information and if necessary you can list education without dates
- Make sure your resume has been updated to a current style and you are using “keywords” that correlate with the market and position you are applying for
- Appearance and first impressions matter. While we don’t suggest you dress “younger” or try to compete in appearance with other candidates, it is important to make sure that your clothes and hair are of an updated style and still fit appropriately. If it has been a while since you have been on an interview, a new suit and haircut may be in order. Be yourself but make sure to look professional
- Bring quality references and a portfolio to showcase your experience. One of the advantages you have with more career experience is the ability to show your potential company or hiring manager what you bring to the table. References that highlight your specific attributes as well as examples of projects or tasks completed can go a long way in showing what you can accomplish.
- Focus on the future both personally and professionally. One of the questions that may come up in your interview is where you see yourself in the next five or ten years. For older job candidates this can be a way to find out if you are looking to retire in the next few years as this can mean a candidate is not looking to advance or learn new skills but just hold out for retirement. Be honest but also stress the tasks you are looking forward to in the job and if you are not ready for retirement make sure you state that clearly.
- Being “overqualified” for a position can be another potential pitfall for a candidate especially if you are stepping down from management or changing roles completely in your career. While over-qualification should not disqualify you from a position make sure you express enthusiasm for current job specifics, if taking on less is a good thing make sure to share why as well as how you have handled specific situations in the past and why you are a good fit for this current position.
- Unemployment gaps are something that future employers understand, especially if a layoff has occurred for financial reasons or the unemployment gap was for a personal or family reason. Be honest and if your unemployment has been due to being “let go,” make sure you address what you have done to correct the corresponding weakness and stress your strengths as an employee.
- It is entirely likely you may be interviewing with or for a manager that is younger than you. A relevant question to expect is whether you have worked for someone younger in the past and your willingness to work and learn from someone younger than you now. Give examples of good situations where this happened if any and acknowledge areas you look forward to learning from your future employer.
Your experience and years in the workforce can be an asset to any team or company provided you know how to clearly express your talents and confidently address common questions and concerns that may arise during the hiring process.
Career Marketing Associates specializes in Executive Search and Recruiting, primarily retained. We represent two kinds of companies: 1) a company that has been very successful and whose leaders are visionaries that know if they are to continue their success they must continue to add “top performers” to their staff, or 2) a company whose leaders, while still visionaries, have had some problems through the most recent economic downturn and know they must replace “ordinary” performers with “top performers” to get their organizations back on a growth and profit path. We employ several different search methods and processes to solve a client company’s talent acquisition problem. We tailor the search method and process to meet your needs by understanding the criticality and urgency of your need through a mutual understanding of what is best for you.
Contact Career Marketing Associates today.