Over 40 and not Hirable? Think Again!
It is a very challenging market today and finding a new job can be especially difficult for professionals like you who have either had a long career and are looking for a new direction, or who have been downsized and aren’t sure how to get back on their feet.
Your job search can be especially frustrating if you are using outdated advice that may have worked well in the “good old days” but clearly isn’t working for you today. If you're still using this advice, your job search continues to become much more of a burdensome exercise with no clear light at the end of the tunnel. As your frustration mounts you start coming up with excuses as to why you’re not getting any meetings, interviews, and offers. Perhaps the greatest excuse is the fact that you are old. That’s right, I said it, you’re old. If you happen to be in your 40s, 50s, 60s or older, you likely think that your age is preventing you from getting a position you truly want to be in.
Let’s set the record straight on how much your age is truly impacting your job search.
Studies have shown that it takes an average of 33 weeks for the average professional to land a new position in this market. For those 55 and over, it’s only taking them an average of 15 weeks longer to get a new position. The silver lining for you, however, is that the unemployment rate for your age group is just 3.9% versus the overall 5% (although I feel is substantially higher but that’s a topic for a different post).
Those of you in your 40s and older can use these tips to help you stand out from your competition.
1) Focus on your job search and not on your emotions. Lose any anger you have from being either laid off or feeling as if you’re being ignored because of your age. There’s no way to get around it, your age is your age, use it to your advantage.
2) Always look the part. It is truly amazing how much farther you will get in the process if you dress for success, and you give off the impression by how you look that you truly have the knowledge and wisdom that it takes to perform the job successfully.
3) Stay current within your industry as well as with technology. If you join LinkedIn groups that are industry or even company-specific, then make sure you read the discussions being posted within those group pages and follow any new trends happening within the industry. Do your best to stay on top of any new technologies, social media, and industry websites that will allow you to compete with your younger competition.
4) Bolster your network. Use LinkedIn to its fullest by extending personalized invitations directly to those professionals in the industry and positions you truly want, requesting that you share a few minutes and have a conversation about any advice they may have regarding a transition into their industry. You’ll be amazed at how many people will accept an invitation when you personalize it and request their advice versus asking for help.
5) Publish your own content. Once again LinkedIn will provide you a forum unlike any other because you will be able to publish an article of 1000 words +/- that will potentially be read by thousands of professionals that can directly impact your ability to get hired by their companies and industries.
6) Be comfortable answering the question “what do you do?” and be able to clearly articulate the skills and capabilities that you bring to the table. Nobody has any interest hearing about some of the things that you did “back in the day” but they certainly will want to hear about your more recent abilities to increase the level of production of your group or team, save your company money by implementing new techniques and strategies, and how you led a project under budget and ahead of schedule.
7) Always put yourself in the mind of the person you are interacting with. Anticipate in advance any preconceived prejudices they may have as a result of your age and put those at ease as soon as possible in your conversation.
8) Hire a career coach! Going through the job search process on your own can be incredibly challenging, and a coach can be especially helpful, partnering with you to reassessing your skills, adjust expectations, tighten up a few other skills that may have softened over the years, such as interviewing, following up, and so on. Coaches are uniquely qualified to develop a job search strategy that will lead you towards your career goals, and as a more, ah, “seasoned” worker, you still have plenty of years left to advance your career instead of just taking a job to pay the bills.
These are just a few of the many tips and strategies you can implement to avoid any age discrimination that you feel may be affecting your job search and your interview performance. As I grow just a wee bit older, I always try to stay one step ahead by anticipating what my conversation partner may be looking to hear from what I have to say, and leverage my “wisdom” and expertise to the greatest advantage.
The bottom line is that every job seeker has issues that they need to address in order to become the candidate chosen to receive an offer, and as someone that bring substantial experience to the table, there’s little reason you can’t be the one accepting the offer in the job you truly want!
If you find that this article delivered some great ideas, please share it with 3 of your connections, fellow group members, and on other social media. This is exactly how I pick up great tips and ideas from some of the other thought leaders here on LinkedIn, and I'd greatly appreciate any efforts you make to do the same.