Searching for a job as an older executive is not easy. The arguments over ageism in the workplace are stacked with statistics that either prove its existence or prove it is a myth. You have experience. You know you would be valuable to any company.
So, forget what statistics show and what other people feel. Read these tips if you are an older executive seeking a job.
Addressing the 800-pound ageism gorilla
A recent AARP study showed that 64% of workers report experiencing age discrimination in the workplace. However, a study of hiring practices shows that the fears of taking on someone who is older than 50 years of age are unfounded.
Older workers are not resistant to learning new skills. Older workers will not slow down and look to coast into retirement. Older workers do not shoot down new ideas just because it sounds unfamiliar to them.
Why? Tomorrow’s older worker is part of the generation that started their careers pre-internet when interpersonal skills mattered (some say too much). This same generation seamlessly adapted to rapid changes in technology between 1996 to the present. Tomorrow’s older worker is Generation X and today’s are called Baby Boomers.
Putting all labels aside, a job candidate or worker rarely wins when he or she goes on the defensive. Making assumptions as to why one is not being hired becomes a fear that manifests into reality. Try these winning methods below, instead.
1. Show your perspectives alongside your experience
Unfortunately, your experience on an executive resume alone will not stand on its own two feet. What you did to succeed years ago is not going to work today. So, try these things to show some perspective alongside your experience:
- List the proudest moments of your career in which all your sacrifice and effort paid off. Whether it be a personal victory for yourself or a team accomplishment, list what you overcame to achieve it.
- Show how your unique perspective helped you achieve your proudest moments along, and why your experience played a part as well.
An example of language used on a resume to express both experience and perspective would be: “Entrepreneurial thinkers approach to managing large global organizations, developing key talent, and establishing strong business relationships. Can excel in highly matrixed organizations, and lead both union and non-union labor forces.”
2. Become a job creator and seeker
Job seekers always go up against the beliefs of what the ideal candidate should look and behave like during the hiring process. They rehearse what to say and do, hoping to fulfill expectations of what the employer believes is “perfect for the role.”
So, switch things up. You, as the older executive, behave like a winner and initiate the dialogue with an employer. Demonstrate your unique value and push for the outcome without facing the competition experienced during the company’s hiring process. Create a new path.
Easier said than done, so start with these tips:
- Reach out to your network like a contractor does offering estimates on construction projects.
- Explain your game-plan for new business.
- Share materials explaining how you work and accomplish goals.
It is easier to secure long-term work after over-delivering on a short-term project.
3. Use your “network muscle”
The beauty of being an older worker is that you have a network that expands all the way back to your college alumni. Social media in the last decade has made it easier to reconnect and hold onto this network. Unlike younger job candidates, you come complete with a network that took years to build!
Here is how to make the most of it:
- Turn to people you know and actively solicit suggestions for connections.
- Start warming up to people you had only written in the past. Don’t spam them. Send LinkedIn messages that turn into calls and make it a human connection. You can help your network in return.
- Start tapping into your LinkedIn connections that are “2nd Degree”. These are people who know your people. Ask for introductions and try to make some of them 1st-degree connections.
Above all and most important
Stay open-minded and positive. The reality of any winning job candidate, young and old, is that they never think like a person who “needs to be saved from a job search.” Job candidates who are hired always put forward that they have something great to bring to the table.