Entering a new job search with decades of experience to offer?
Be prepared to meet with and forge relationships with interviewers and hiring managers of varying ages and mindsets.
In every field, older workers must deal with the fact that they’re not the newest candidates on the block, and check themselves against long-held beliefs that could hold them back.
Take a look at these ways you could be making your age an issue in the job search, with ways to refresh your approach:
Using a resume that describes work history from 20+ years ago.
It’s common for most employers to expect approximately 10-15 years of detail in a resume, with the rest summarized for relevance. Yet, it can be difficult to trim off seemingly important details.
Career coach Yolanda Owens describes this conundrum in How Far Back Should Your Resume Go? Here’s How to Decide, saying it’s best to keep your work history brief and easy to skim. “Age proofing” your resume by trimming it to relevant details can be a key step to avoid having your resume tossed out.
You can condense past details in either your resume summary or rolled up at the end of your work history, especially if related to the job you’re pursuing (see How Long Should Your Resume Be?). For example, “Closed major technology win at Fortune 500 CPG manufacturer” could be a great tie-in for a sales leadership job.
Giving long, rambling answers to interviewer questions.
In the rapid pace of today’s job market and digital communications, you’ll benefit from making your case succinctly.
According to Jennifer Scupi of Interview Genie in How Long Should Your Interview Answers Be?, it’s a good idea to limit most of your interview answers to 2-3 minutes, even for complex subjects.
To get yourself into the mode of shorter interview answers, record practice interviews where you’re answering common questions such as “Tell me about yourself” or “Why should we hire you?” These sessions will help you review the timing for each topic and help you condense responses where needed.
Displaying an outdated headshot on LinkedIn.
It’s important to have an up-to-date approach and relevant style in the images you use on LinkedIn. After all, this is a core component of your personal brand. (And if you aren’t even USING LinkedIn, read what Bob McIntosh has to say in 4 Areas in Your Job Search Where You’re Broadcasting Your Age.)
Consider adding a professional headshot, a casual photo within a work setting, or even an outdoor shot. The idea is to give viewers a glimpse of your personality and build a trusting bond.
If in doubt, look at Profiles of the industry leaders you’d want to emulate; you’ll see some trends in their attire, demeanor, and background settings that may work for your photo.
LinkedIn also allows you to choose a background image that appears behind your photo. By using a fresh, current image from low-cost or free stock photo websites like Canva, Pexels, or Dreamstime, you’ll show your energy for your work and project an image consistent with your qualifications.
Possessing a demeanor that puts off younger interviewers.
Decades of experience can make you feel as if you must explain complex concepts in minute detail to anyone younger than you.
Yet, these attempts to thwart age bias could actually work against you.
Jessica Nordell describes various types of unconscious bias and age discrimination in The End of Bias: A Beginning, noting that pervasive assumptions about age, gender, or ethnicity can interfere with communication.
It’s important to carefully assess your interviewing style to acknowledge and eradicate any internal stereotyping before speaking to company representatives.
Also, take time to reflect on whether you’re unwittingly conveying a lack of confidence based on your age – and ensure you’re focused on the ROI you provide to employers (in your interviews, LinkedIn Profile, and resume).
Expressing frustration with emerging technologies.
No matter what solutions are used at a prospective workplace, you’ll fare best when prepared to discuss your grasp of these technologies, rather than becoming annoyed when learning new skills.
The good news is you can quickly pick up technology skills from online platforms, enabling you to brush up on collaboration, project management, virtual whiteboard, or other new tools (such as Basecamp, Flock, Slack, or others).
Many companies offering these products will let you sign up for free webinars, and they’ll also provide online guides, Help Centers, and other ways to get up to speed.
These new competencies can carry you with confidence through the interview stages – and into the first days on the new job.
To summarize, the way you convey your qualifications and promote your value can make a huge difference in the outcome of your job search.
Take conscious steps to show employers your readiness and fit in their organizations.