Now more than ever, people are entering the job market with concerns about finding a job that fits their level of experience (and in some cases, any job). Often, executives over the age of 50 can find themselves competing for positions with candidates 10 to 15 years younger. It is not uncommon for senior-level executives with highly successful career histories to learn that they lost the job to someone less experienced and younger.
Most often, senior executives lose out because they have not presented their age and experience as assets to the hiring organization. Keep these tips in mind and you can use your age to your advantage in a job search.
Demonstrate relevant experience and expertise.
When competing for a position, you need to thoroughly research the company and approach the interview with a well-developed value proposition, including specific and measurable ways you can make a difference immediately. The experience factor is an asset that can help you ace the interview if you show that you understand the company’s strategic needs and can give valid examples of how you have handled similar situations.
Don’t advertise your age too early.
Your resume can affect how employers and recruiters perceive your age. If your resume shows that have over 30 years of experience and graduated from college in the 1970s or 1980s, it is not difficult to do the math. Your age will be revealed in the recruiting process, but you can help avoid being dismissed in the first pass by not including every job you have had since high school. Limit job history on your resume to the last 10 to 15 years to show recent roles and skills, and omit dates on your education and certifications. You can provide those details later after you have had the chance to show your experience, expertise and value proposition.
Avoid using a one-size-fits-all resume.
Read each job description carefully to make sure you show experience and expertise relevant to the position. Highlight your career accomplishments with quantifiable metrics. The way you quantify your achievements will vary for different positions—you should emphasize different metrics for a sales role than for one in marketing or technology.
Show that you are an intergenerational team player.
Whether in an interview or on the job, promote your ability to be a team player and to take direction or learn from a younger colleague. While older executives have much to offer in the way of experience and maturity, younger generations also have much to teach. Think of mentoring as a two-way street with collaboration as the intersection.
Dispel the myth that older executives are not tech-savvy.
Show your capability by understanding the technology and tools needed for each role and using relevant language. Make sure you have updated your social media, including a professional headshot. Brush up on skills to use video apps, especially for virtual interviews. If necessary, take some online classes to sharpen your technology skills and to make sure you are using the correct tools. Work on certifications or training to show you are staying current and continuing to learn and grow.
Leverage advocates in your network.
Working your professional network is critical to making a personal connection with a targeted company or hiring manager. Leverage your network connections to find someone that can help you reach the right people. Having an advocate that can validate your talent and abilities gives you a significant advantage over other candidates, regardless of age. As the saying goes, “It’s not always what you know, but whom you know.” This is yet another area where age is an asset: The longer someone has been in the workforce, the larger that network is likely to be.
Above all, keep a positive attitude in your job search. If you are persistent and keep working the process, you will find the right opportunity. The person that wins the job is the one that goes into the interview with the confidence that comes from experience and the energy that comes from knowing their passion.