Anyone over 50 and seeking a new job is aware that ageism is alive and well and that the older job hunter faces some unflattering stereotypes. You will need a strategy to overcome the stereotypes that older workers are:
– not technologically savvy
– tired, slow, unenthusiastic and just putting in time until they can retire
– set in their ways and not willing to try new things
– unable to get along with younger co-workers and bosses
– too expensive
Boomers and other older workers may not learn the newer technologies as quickly as younger workers, but they can learn them and most older workers do have the skills required by the work place. If MS Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) are still a mystery to you, enroll in a class in a community college or training center immediately. Make sure you are current in the technology used in your field. If newer applications and technologies are becoming more common in your industry, take a class or workshop so you are familiar with your industry’s new standards.
Show that you are technologically savvy in the heading of your resume. Be sure it includes your email address and cell phone number. If it is relevant to the position that you seek, include the URL to your website.
Eighty percent of recruiters Google applicants before contacting them. Google yourself and make sure the results are positive. There should be no indication of your age; some “find your classmates” and dating sites list your name and age. Make sure only friends and not recruiters can see the family pictures where you might really look your age. If a friend or relative has tagged you in an embarrassing photograph, hopefully you can convince them to remove it.
You should have an online presence. If there are other people with your name, you may want to start using a middle initial of even middle name to distinguish yourself from the crowd. At the very least you should be on LinkedIn. If you need some time to learn about LinkedIn, you can get started by developing a profile using About Me dot com or Flavors dot me. Whenever you do a profile at a social networking site, be sure to create a complete profile. You do not want to give anyone the impression that you do not finish what you start.
When you get an interview, be sure that you come across as vital and enthusiastic. Don’t let anything that you can control create a problem. Whether you are a man or a woman you should wear a suit that makes you look terrific. Go for something that is classic and fits perfectly. Have it tailored, if necessary. Shoes and accessories should match and be stylish. Unless everyone tells you how stunning your gray hair is, color your hair. Men with white or gray facial hair should color it or shave it. Of course, your hair style should be contemporary. If your eyeglasses say you’re old replace them with frames that are more fashionable. Stained or yellow teeth age your face; getting your teeth whitened may be a worthwhile investment.
Besides being good for you, daily exercise gives you a trimmer more vibrant appearance.
Hopefully your resume implies that you are flexible and have learned new things in your past positions; your responses to interview questions should also assure the interviewer that you have recent accomplishments and that you are not stuck in your ways. Be ready to weave through your answers to interview questions the answers to the interviewer’s unasked concerns. Those concerns include is this candidate: overqualified; able to learn the new job or industry; adaptable and open-minded; and able to work with people of all ages including younger bosses. When interviewing, be sure to show enthusiasm in your voice.
Be prepared for your interviews. There are numerous books and websites that list the typical questions that you should expect. Practice answering these questions and expect technical questions pertaining to your area of expertise. Be well versed on your accomplishments and indicate that you are knowledgeable about changes in your industry.
Before an interview, research the company, the job, and the potential boss (this is where LinkedIn can be a tremendous help) to get as much information as you can about the needs of the organization. This allows you to ask intelligent questions and prepares you to discuss how your background and skills will benefit this company. In other words, give them a reason to hire you! Many decision makers have mentioned that older candidates do a good job during the interview of telling their story, but they neglect to focus on what they can do for this organization.
Don’t talk money until a second interview or until there is a job offer. Salary questions are a device to screen out applicants. Learn the average salaries for your area and through your contacts try to get an idea of what the company you are interviewing with is planning to offer.
On electronic applications, try to leave any boxes about your past salaries blank. If leaving it blank does not work, try typing in “0,” which is obviously a mistake, but your online application will go through without a salary history that may be perceived as too high or too low.
There are many factors that fall under compensation and salary may not even be your main concern at this point.
Show your age. After your interviews, send your thank you letters by snail mail (U.S. mail with a stamp on it). Thank you emails are not memorable.
Don’t pay attention to the media. People over 50 do find new jobs. The media knows that bad news sells, so they are going to keep focusing on how bad the economy is, especially for older workers. However, the figures that they cite are drawn from generalities and do not take into account the personal drive, focus, and energy that an individual puts into his or her job search.