Q: Although a potential employer can’t overtly use age as the basis for making a decision, we over 55ers will frequently be passed over for younger applicants for a job. How do you sell your age as an asset when you are interviewing without being overly pushy about it?
A: Great question. You raise a reality that many job seekers are facing. A candidate will be told, “You are not a good fit.” Or, “Not sure if you would do well with our team.” Or worse of all, no response at all.
In short, you have to convince the interviewer to focus on your value to the company, not your age. Candidates who can demonstrate value get hired. After all, an employer is buying your services trying to get the best bang for their buck.
Here are some tips:
1. Limit your resume to two pages. Consider eliminating your early career roles which may not be as relevant.
2. Include key words in your resume that showcase your skills as up to date. Make sure that you have stayed current in terms of technology, industry trends and experience.
3. Ask a trusted colleague for advice and feedback on your resume and your job search.
4. Don’t offer hurdles that make it easy for a recruiter to eliminate you. What are hurdles? Comments like: “I won’t go into Boston anymore.” Or “I don’t have the time to learn the newest version of that software. I went to a training class in the 80’s and that was enough for me.” Instead offer what you can do. Speak in flexible terms. Examples include: “I know I could learn the latest version. I enjoy learning new technologies.”
5. Some of my clients perceive some email addresses, such as having an aol.com extension, as that of a candidate who is living in the past.
6. Talk up your current experience. Candidates who reminisce, at length, about companies that have died, are not perceived as vibrant candidates.
7. Check your clothing and appearance. Make sure that you are not wearing a suit that you bought in the 80s.
8. Think about what you are expecting in terms of compensation. If you last made $70K and an employer is posting the role with a $50K price tag, is $70K reasonable? Sometimes I think companies are focused on dollars and cents. If another candidate comes along and will take $55K, then think about your salary requirements. I find sometimes it is not a candidate’s age but their salary requirements which scare off the employer. A $70K salary offer could disrupt their internal equity (what they are paying others in the same or similar roles).
9. Lastly, and perhaps, most importantly, be energetic, willing and enthusiastic. Companies want to hire engaged candidates, of any age.