By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS
Many older workers have been shell-shocked with how hard this challenging economy has hit their demographic. Older people aged 50 and over, have been affected by this financial crisis than ever before. How do you navigate the waters and find the position you desire? The following tips are geared to help older workers lessen their fears and move with confidence towards their goal.
1. Shoot for high level positions. Many older workers think that because the market is so challenging they should look at positions that are at the same or lower level than they were at before. They let the “fear” cause them to aim too low. I say, if you have the skills, look at positions at higher levels such as Director or Vice President. These positions often seek candidates with 10-12 years or 12-15 years of experience. They are seeking the experience that older workers can bring to the table.
2. Do your research. Once you have secured your interview, make sure that you do all of your research about the company as we have discussed in past postings. However, this time, you are going to do this research with the thought process in mind about being prepared for “older person” questions. What kinds of questions, you ask? Well, if you are changing industries, you will most likely be asked questions about how you can manage to work in a different industry. Your answer should include information on transferable skills. Showing how your skills and experience can easily bring them quality work in their industry will get them to listen and want to hear more.
3. Show you are contemporary and have kept your skills current. If you are seeking work in the same industry or even a different industry, you are going to want to stress how you will not require a lot of training and can hit the ground running. How do you do this? You show how you have kept yourself current in everything from industry knowledge to computer skills. If you have been using or learned special software, make sure that you are up to date with the latest versions. When asked about this knowledge, provide information about lessons or classes you have taken to stay current. (See my website for Social Media Classes for Job Seekers).
It is in these discussions, as well as on your resume, that you want to exhibit your knowledge of social media. Include what you know about and how you use social media in the answers to your question. This shows that you are tech savvy and tech knowledge equals being contemporary.
4. Be prepared for tough questions. A common question to be prepared for is one about working with younger people. It is not uncommon today for you to be interviewed by and working for people younger than yourself. What is the best way to negotiate a question dealing with this topic? Let your interviewer know that you can work with anyone. Age does not matter. What is more important is that you work as a team with the goal of getting the job done well.
My favorite question that older people get asked is, “Aren’t you overqualified?” When you get asked this question, it is your job to show the interviewer how you are the most qualified candidate for the job. As my friend Absolutely Abby often says, “Do you want a surgeon that is just qualified or one who is perfectly qualified to do your operation?”
So here you have it, 4 tips to bring success to the older jobseeker. As always, please leave me a comment and let me know if this column has helped you.
If you are struggling in search, feel free to contact me at LindaVan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.