How do you recommend an older job seeker (55+) approach a job search? What are the things specific to this group that needs to be done/kept in mind? What type of companies should they pursue, and how should they pursue them?
In addition to all the basics covered in previous posts, specifically for older candidates, I would encourage the following:
- Become proficient in technology. Make sure that you are comfortable in basic computer functionality, and dependent on the job you are applying for, consider signing up for a local course to improve your computer skills.
- It seems like once a month, we have an older, VP level candidate that passes on an interview because the hiring manager wants to Skype. Embracing technology and acknowledging that while there is nothing wrong with saying something is new, being resistant and adamantly refusing to be open to new concepts is what is ultimately the deal-killer.
- Recognize that social media now provides previously unheard of ways to connect with potential hiring managers. Sign up for LinkedIn and create a profile that makes it easy for recruiters to find you. Search for hiring managers within your targeted companies, and then follow and interact with them. Do the same for Facebook and Twitter. By adding thoughtful, insightful commentary on their posts, you can get on someone’s radar like never before.
- Regarding what type of companies should an older candidate target, I would suggest first looking at companies that are within their industry of focus. Hoovers is a terrific place to look for companies categorized by industry. Then by drilling down into a company’s executive team profiles, you can see if they are primary comprised of 20-year-olds, or if they have a more seasoned executive team. Setting up Google Alerts will give you a heads up to posted openings that you can apply for, and you can also sign up on many company websites to be alerted to job openings as they become available.
- You can also research companies on Glassdoor to learn about their company culture and occasionally job seekers will even share their interview experiences.
- Invest in a professional resume writer, to craft the best looking resume possible. You have one shot to get an interview, and it is well worth every dollar spent on having the best reflection of your work history possible.
Most importantly, keep in mind that while technology has indeed changed at a startling rate, there is truly nothing wrong with saying you are not familiar with something, as long as you are open to learning it.
Where we consistently see older candidates crash and burn in the interview process is when they become defensive about not knowing something and refuse to learn it.
The fact is, older candidates possess a wealth of invaluable experience, and are still considered to be extremely valuable employees. Just take a deep breath, and be open to learning new things. Take an honest assessment of what you believe your shortcomings are in terms of technology and get the training needed. The good news is that for the majority of things that the average candidate will require to be considered for a role in today’s market, you can honestly learn those skills in a weekend class. Learning to Skype takes 15 minutes, and setting up a good LinkedIn profile should take less than an hour. By diving in and staying positive, you will surprise yourself at how quickly these things will come second nature to you.
Focus on what you do bring to the table, and be open to learning what you don’t. Work on not being defensive when asked to do something new, and strive to maintain an attitude of being pleasantly confident, and you should be able to compete for, and win, the job of your dreams.
Have a question you’d like a recruiter to answer? Write to me at AskAnn@execunet.com
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