By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior contributing Writer
Who would have thought that being 45 years old or better would classify you as an older worker?
It’s an issue today because employers seem to be focusing more on age as a hiring factor. Job applicants older than a certain age often have to overcome barriers they
didn’t face when they were younger. Fortunately there are ways to deal with this potential bias.
What Mature Job Seekers Are Up Against
If an employer is worried about a mature job applicant, they’re usually concerned – rightly or wrongly – that this job seeker will...
- Cost more than a younger worker in terms of salary and benefits
- Be more set in his or her ways
- Have less energy and focus
- Take off more days for sick leave or elder care
Employers may also wonder if the mature applicant has been keeping up with the latest knowledge and techniques in their field. Or there may be some anxiousness that an older worker will feel resentful if they have to work under a younger supervisor.
Whether any of these hesitations are grounded in truth or not, you may find yourself having to fight prejudging solely based on being over 45 or so.
Things You Can Offer As A Mature Worker
It’s a good thing that maturity does tend to have its benefits. As an experienced employee you bring with you many attractive attributes.
Loyalty is one such quality. The fact that you’ve been around for a while and may have stayed with certain jobs for more than just a few years, sets you apart from younger job hoppers. It may also show that you are promotable, especially if you have risen up the ranks when you stayed with an employer for an extended period.
Perspective and insight are other traits an employer values. Once you’ve worked for a few decades you come to realize that there are cycles in the economy. There will be good times and tough years. Your ability to push through the tough times and keep your head during challenging ones sets you apart.
Another thing: as an older employee you can serve as your organization’s built-in memory banks. You’ve seen fads and new methods come and go. You know who does what best. Moreover, as a mature worker you make a great, patient mentor for newer staff.
Prevent Getting Pre-Screened Out of Interview Opportunities
Resume experts will tell you to list only the most recent 12 to 15 years of your work experience, even if you’ve been employed for much longer. This way it’s harder for an employer to peg your exact age, and you don’t seem overqualified. (Don’t leave too much off though, or else when you get to the interview you might hear a gasp when they see you for the first time.)
Similarly you should consider leaving off the dates of your formal education. Do list dates of recent courses, workshops and certificates you’ve earned, plus conferences and trade shows you’ve attended, to get across that you take pride in staying up to date.
Keep your photographs off of your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts
that you use for job hunting. But use these sites to tap into your network before you go for job interviews. Your contacts may be able to give you invaluable details about the employer or people you’ll be interviewing with.
Don’t Confirm The Employer’s Worst Fears At Your Job Interview
When it comes to the job interview, showing that you’re energetic and with it are really important. This is not the time to act your age – if you’re tired or less focused, that is.
Don’t hesitate to add a bit of extra vitality. Sit up straighter and listen more attentively. Take notes if you need to. Come prepared having done your research. Maybe pull out your smart phone
part way through just so the interviewers see that you carry one.
Talk about the latest trends and happenings in your field or industry. Mention publications, websites or blogs you follow to stay on top of developments. Cite software and techniques you use that are current.
Think Younger While Emphasizing Your Maturity
One instance where being more experienced can really be in your favour is when you apply for contract (fixed term) employment rather than a so-called permanent job. Many contract positions pay a flat rate and don’t include benefits. Thus your extra experience becomes an asset.
For those permanent jobs that include full benefits, just how much should you try to appear more youthful? Dyeing your hair, getting a modern pair of glasses or contact lenses, freshening your wardrobe...all of these things can help make you look physically younger. Cosmetic surgery has become more common for both men and women in the U.S. among job seekers.
Whether you choose to go under the knife or simply use moisturizer to soften the crow’s feet around your eyes; whether you merely push yourself to research the employer and network better instead of changing your appearance; the choice is yours.
45, 55 or 65+, maturity can work in your favour as a job seeker. Your accumulated experience and wisdom are worth something. So are your loyalty and proven persistence. Highlight these to the right employer often enough, and you may just end up as the old dog teaching pups new tricks.