Older Job Seekers: Don’t take the back seat in the hiring process!

Take control of your job search!

Yes indeed, age discrimination exists in the workplace and many mature job hunters are facing an uphill battle when competing against younger candidates. But there is still hope.

Whatever how old you are, whatever you are being told, you do not have to take the back seat. Here are some leads on how to do it.

It is all about spinning and reframing.

Change Your Mindset

The first thing to be done is to relentlessly remind yourself that you are experienced, not old. You are seasoned, not over-the-hill. You are here and now, not history.

Go on the Offensive

Then, go on the offensive. You may be, but you are not stupid, and you are not dead. Use your know-how to sell your experience against youth. Sell the fact that being older often brings more wisdom, more common sense, and a long work record of real life accomplishments. Sell your track record. Take advantage of your lengthy work history and turn your age into an advantage.

Make Sure to Wear Just One Hat

The most important thing you now have to do is to focus on the job description and the title of the job you are interviewed for.

Tell the prospective employer what he wants to know and nothing more. If your duties and experiences from some of your previous positions do not address the job title’s requirements or the job description, do not emphasize them. Whenever possible, get them off your resume.

Do not give prospective employers another reason to screen you out. This is your story. Tell it your way. Magnify only the aspects of your background that are relevant to your targeted objective.

Have a Second Look at Your Resume

Before sending in your application or presenting yourself to a prospective employer, have a second look at your resume and ask yourself: Would I hire myself for this position? It is a well-known fact that you cannot do anything about your age. But one thing you can definitely do is to stack the deck in your favor.

Spin and reframe your story in your favor. This is your story. Tell it your way. You don’t have anything to lose and everything to gain. Drop old work history from your resume. You generally should not need to show more than 10 years’ work history. Remove obvious road markers such as dates.

Remove college degree dates and older professional training dates that go back more than a few years. Make sure everything in your resume relates in some way to your goal and that there is nothing in your resume that gives up your age.

Now that you have the interview:  Sell Results

Here is the most important thing to remember: Today’s hiring managers and business owners and managers are looking for performance and results. Talk the only language they talk, understand and really appreciate: Return on Investment. Identify your benefits and put them into monetary terms.

Back up your accomplishments with facts that are benefit-based. Sell them from the perspective of the end result of your work and how it served your present and previous employers and/or customers. Get as close to money as you possibly can in the language of your accomplishments, and list them on your resume.

In difficult economic times, money talks and it talks rather loudly.



Is it My Age or My Salary?

Age discrimination is neither legal or fair!

If you are an executive in your mid-50s or early 60s who made it through the first screenings because you did not put your first couple of jobs on your resume or excluded the year you graduated, you could walk into that interview and be talking to an HR person who is the age of your child or the age of the child of your child whose only responsibility is to say “No!” as often and quickly as possible to candidates who do not fit the pattern.

Want it or not, you have to go through that process and your goal is now, to satisfy this low-level interviewer that your qualifications fit the profile and that there are no other issues such as age, health problems or unusually high salary requirement that would disqualify you.

The key to being successful is not hiding your age or salary, but being prepared to overcome all possible disclosed or undisclosed objections.

Think like a salesperson.

A salesperson practices to deal with any objections you might bring up because salespersons know what the potential objections will be. Because you think and act like a salesperson, you can avoid a lot of objections before they are even brought up and settle a lot of questions before they are even asked.

Usually the first few minutes of the interview will go like this: “Did you have trouble finding the place”, “How was your weekend?” Instead of the usual answer, go out of your way to say, “I went hiking with some friends of mine over the weekend, and I feel great!” Right at the outset you paint yourself as someone who is energetic and ready to go without even knowing if age would be an issue.

Questions about compensation and authority are stickier but can be dealt with a lot more directly with the hiring manager then the low-level interviewer.

Make the entry point as comfortable as possible for them.

If you are talking to the hiring manager, you can cut to the chase and say, “I can do everything you need done and more, and you are going to be thrilled. You will not find anybody who can do this job better than I can do it, so let’s talk about how you can bring me on board in a way that is comfortable for you.”

You can suggest that the hiring manager bring you in near the top of the scale that would have been appropriate for the more-junior person that was originally expected in the role, with the understanding that your compensation will be reviewed in six months based on the amount of value you bring to the job.

You can also propose to start on a consulting basis to get your foot in the door and say you are comfortable with that arrangement because you know the kind of value you can bring to the organization.

The key to making the compensation talk work resides in demonstrating elegantly that you can do all kinds of things a younger person can do plus all these things a less experienced person might not know to do at all thus showing that your experience makes you uniquely valuable compared to other candidates for the job.