I know this is a touchy career subject, but that’s why I like it. In the interest of full disclosure, I am part of this crowd, the ‘boomers’. Ah, yes, once reigning solid over the workforce at nearly 50% of us representing it in 2000. But the first of us turned 65 in 2011 – now we have waned to half that 50% representation. Clearly, there’s more value in quality than in quantity and that’s what this group brings to the table. Yes, certain technology skills elude some of us, and some of us have antediluvian management practices; but transferring skills, retraining and most importantly, experience, can make the difference for most of us in this work genre’.
So, before the majority of my readers click off, listen up. This could be you at some point, perhaps soon. Employers, this may resonate with you as well. It’s a fact that this generation still has much to offer. This group is necessary and complements the younger workforce, who are in varying degrees of learning curves. There is never a lack of need for experience to produce quality work in business.
You know that word, “experience”. It’s the Latin derivation meaning ‘to try – to test’. How does one try or test a circumstance without having adequate time passage to do so? Surely, the collection of all these ‘tries’ has some value to a company and career? Situational experience – the kind that can’t be taught in books – cannot be bought; it has to be earned. Older workers have major leverage and value to businesses with their experiential knowledge; but how can they translate that in their resume’ or during the interview?
The good news is that the economy, even by the most pessimistic economists’ accounts, IS getting better. The bad news, we are still plagued by ageism; that ‘dirty word’ employers and some HR pundits put into euphemisms, or they ignore it. That’s a mistake.
Back to my ‘boomers’ and savvy job searchers; here’s what you have to do to counteract the, “He’s lucky to have a job at 58” mindset in your career track:
Get Social, as in the Internet – You must. There’s no amount of exposure with old style networking, or amount of experience that can sublimate being able to participate in a hangout, ‘like’ someone, recommend your buddy, understand how to ‘share’, or connect to a Webinar – all via your computer. Social media dominates the employment realm. It’s a good thing. Really, it is, but if you expect to land an interview you better ‘know somebody’ even if that means virtually. You will require introductions from total strangers found on your third degree network status.
Post your profile and make it personal. In spite of what you think, it’s better to give them something to look at because social media is the NEXT place employers go after reviewing your resume’. So, please use a GOOD picture taken with high resolution light (yes, light is your friend because shadows produce a look that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein would rival, thus removing ALL doubt about your age).
This is what is expected when you apply online. If that’s not your marketplace for jobs, go to Cousin Jim and get that intro. Good Luck with that!
Get the Skills -If the info above and anything else you read in a position description sounds Greek to you, you need to do the ‘retraining’ mentioned earlier. It’s the greatest hope you have. Your friend is YouTube or your local college. On YouTube you may search any topic and a number of videos will gladly walk you through things like understanding social networks. Or, go to school and take the class needed.
Check out a few online avenues for training, ideas, camaraderie through associations like http://www.encore.org/, or ones that can help you get up to speed in your particular field.
Your Resume’ – Once again, technology rules with keyword searches. Rather than the caring HR person reviewing your resume’ nicely, an Automatic Tracking Systems will electronically scan YOUR resume’ whether you electronically posted it or mailed it, looking for just those correct keywords. If they don’t show, you lose in spite of the fact that you have a gazillion years of experience and you are JUST what they are looking for.
Like the code to the Holy Grail and your grandmothers’ peach pie, there’s no one on the earth who can tell you WHICH key words are required; but a good tip is to use a few that occur in the position description. Yes, you have to rework each resume’ to the position. AND, please don’t say you have a gazillion years of experience. That will date you. The only numbers that count are when you are citing performance outcomes. Instead, give those outcomes in a short case study in your cover letter, or as metrics in the meat of that great resume’. You must stand out. Also, this is when that total stranger found in your social networking stable, the one who works for the company you are trying to interview with, will come in handy.
Be Flexible – Now you’ve scored an interview! Stay young thinking and hungry for experience even though you do have those gazillion years of it. Highlight this confidence with the new skills picked up in your recent learning experiences. Be proud of your knowledge, but demonstrate your openness to new things. When presented with something out of your expectations, no one likes a candidate who says “No”. Go with the flow and don’t turn down that role, position or salary just because you’ve not done it before, think you can’t, or it’s below your overly high expectations. This is true especially if you are transferring your skills into a new type of work or industry for you, which, I hope you do! Don’t project that person who has the: “My way, or the highway” mentality. You can always wow them later after you’ve done this role, task or even taken a lower salary.
You may have read this information before, but it all bears repeating, it seems. Recently this topic has become a good part of my coaching experiences. My hope is that you’ve gained a little more knowledge and support so you CAN get that perfect job at any age – if you have the right attitude and willingness to go through transition and learning. Also, check out my guide, The Secret to THRIVING After a Transition – 5 Steps to Take During Any Transition, for more info.
Question: This isn’t ALL that’s needed to land a job at any age; what have you done that was successful in landing your job?