I recently conducted a seminar on Internet Job Hunting at the Mosaico Community Development Corporation in Bristol, RI, which included several older, mature job seekers in the audience. An interesting discussion ensued. It focused on age discrimination in the hiring process.
Many of these older job seekers were convinced that they had been repeatedly discriminated against based on their age, which was the primary reason they believed they could not get a new job.
Sadly, there is no doubt in my mind that discrimination in all forms does exist sometimes in the hiring process. But as a member of the Human Resource Management Association of Rhode Island for the past seven years, I believe it to be the exception. And most of the hiring managers and human resource directors that I know would welcome adding seasoned new employees to their organizations when hiring.
So why the disconnect? Could something else be going on here? Could the candidates themselves be partly to blame?
Here are five tips to bridge that disconnect and to help older job seekers find gainful, new employment:
1. Re-Focus Your Resume to Highlight the Most Recent and Relevant
Many older job seekers have years, if not decades, of great experience, and there is resistance to pairing the resume down to one page. But are you unintentionally overwhelming the hiring manager with stale or irrelevant data? Get out those red pens and start editing!
2. Stress Your Long Term Commitment
In many cases, the job you are applying for probably offers less responsibility and less money than your previous one, but they still won't hire you. Is the employer worried that the minute the economy improves; you will skip out the door back to your previous, more lucrative position? Emphasize that you want a permanent career move.
3. Focus on the Job Offered
After accumulating decades of experience, it's easy to get carried away talking about all of the great things you've done in your storied career. Good for you! Unfortunately, most of the time, employers only want to know how well you can do the job that you are applying for. It is important to brag about accomplishments, but stay on topic! They're not asking you to take over the company.
4. Show Enthusiasm for the New Company and Training
So you're an old dog and they want to teach you new tricks? Make sure they know you welcome every opportunity to learn something new. You may have done it one way for thirty years, but you need to stay open to their way, too. Don't appear stubborn or to be a know-it-all.
5. Stay Technologically Relevant
Become a master of email, texting, social media and most Internet applications. It's easy - ask your grandkids. As new media becomes more pervasive in business, the employer should know that you are comfortable with it and that you embrace it.