Competing With A Younger Workforce
With years of experience behind you and a wealth of work history, you would hope that being a 40-something in a job market filled with younger prospects should set you up in a favorable position. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
More than a few hiring managers prefer to seek out potential recruits among new blood – they are, after all, hungrier to prove themselves, willing to work for less perks and are more likely familiar with new technologies than someone from an older generation. Unless you’re bringing something unique and vital to the table, you might find your job search frustrating and a little less than ideal.
Being an older participant in the job market, you have a few things working against you. You’re older and people assume you’ll be harder to train. Your job history will be more extensive, potentially over-qualifying you from many available positions. Lastly, your salary history can prove daunting to many organizations looking to keep employee costs at bay.
You can’t compete with a younger workforce on their terms. Getting hired means using your age, experience and higher salary demands as a positive bargaining advantage. Find out how you can make it work you.
1. Keep your résumé brief and to the point.
Owning decades’ worth of work experience, you can probably fill 10 pages in your résumé with ease. However, with hundreds of job applicants vying for the same job, an excessively long application will only make it harder for hiring managers to scan through and find notable information that indicate your suitability for the position.
It is a good idea to keep your résumé to two pages, with key points like job title, main responsibilities and major accomplishments duly highlighted. Use bullets to make it easier to read while employing high-impact words and action phrases. The résumé is meant to gloss over your best points and leave enough room for the imagination – let it do its work and get eager hiring executives on the phone.
2. Understand the necessary skills for the job position and focus on how you can fulfill them.
Even though you’ve held multiple positions with varying requirements, listing them all in great detail is not going to help your cause. What should prove more beneficial is focusing on strengths that are directly relevant to the post you are applying for. While being well-rounded is a positive trait, the job market requires specialized skills and you can drive the point home by focusing on past experience that applies directly to what the work entails.
You can still list non-relevant job experiences but use them as an aside. Keep your application’s focus on necessary facts and make a stronger impact on anyone reviewing it.
3. Provide details.
Organizations thrive on the bottom line. If you can emphasize how your actions have helped improve previous employers’ margins either by directly affecting profit or helping reduce costs, make sure to list them as a major accomplishment. Past history is a good predictor of future performance and a single notable instance is all you need to create a convincing argument.
4. Highlight your ability to adapt.
As an older individual, many organizations will assume you are set in your ways. Prove them wrong by bringing to light instances that exhibit your ability to adapt and explore new avenues, whether by learning a new technology, taking on unusual projects or working with different teams. Let them know that you welcome change and can make the best of unexpected situations.
5. Embrace technology.
The internet is a great place to network and present yourself to potential employers. Make sure you develop a professional online presence by creating accounts with business-oriented social networking sites like LinkedIn and XING. Keep your résumés updated with major job search sites as well. Going the internet route exhibits both your web-savvy and an ability to use the most current technology to your advantage.
6. Emphasize your leadership skills.
As a seasoned applicant requiring better than an entry-level compensation package, you will need to demonstrate more than just basic competency. Bring your wealth of knowledge to the table and build a convincing argument for your leadership abilities – running teams, teaching less-experienced co-workers and interfacing with management are all vital skills that can set you apart from the majority of applicants for the same position.