Job Hunting Advice for Older Workers

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Job Hunting Advice for Older Workers
8
Mon, 06-02-2014 - 7:00pm

Hi,

I work with a number of mature (over 40) job seekers and find the following tips may be helpful to them.

1)Own your age, but don't whine about it. I can't count how many times I've heard mature job seekers start their job assessment with a whine: "I can't get hired because I'm (fill in age). I whole-heartedly agree with them. No one is going to hire a "negative Ned" or "negative Nancy." So don't start the interview by complaining about your age.

  • Own your age don't wear it on your sleeve. It's obvious to most interviewers you aren't 22 and fresh out of college. Gray hair, wrinkles, and laugh lines can be worn with dignity and be viewed as an asset. The minute you open your mouth to whine about your age and the job market you'll take yourself out of the running.
  • Here's an old chestnut that's true, especially in job hunting: Attitude is everything. A good attitude is paramount to success. A bad attitude, regardless of your age, will get your resume put in the circular file.

2)Mind your social media. I started my professional life long before computers graced every desktop. I learned to use MS Office, email, Facebook, and Twitter as part of my skill training and am very glad I did. I don't make a point of bringing that up the fact I began my career in the stone age. I live, and communicate, in the now. I am comfortable using social media and talking about it. Get familiar with social media and use it so you can honestly say you know about it.

3)It's a diverse world. I recently took a gray-haired male out of the running for a position, and not because he wasn't qualified. His sin was not directly answering the woman on the interview team. When she asked a question, he automatically turned to the men in the room, looked them in the eye, and answered the question, leaving the woman out of the equation. I'm sure he didn't intend for that to be the impression, but there it was. Organizations today will require their employees to work with a diverse aray of collegues and customers. Such an outright slight won't be tolerated.

4)Mind your dates. I strongly encourage older workers to skip adding years to their emails and dates to their education outline. In other words, no emails that say "johnsmith1960" or "B.S. - State University, 1978."  Don't hand age information to the potential employer. Keep things plain and simple. If they require a transcript for your school degrees, they'll discover when you got your bachelor's or master's degree after they've made an offer.

5)An entitlement attitude doesn't pay. Age and experience are advantages. Older workers tend to be more stable, adaptable, and teachable than younger workers. (My observation only). Don't ruin your chances for an offer by demanding above and beyond pay or benefits. Be willing to start at the bottom or the middle to get a foot in the door. Nothing irks an employer more than a worker who comes with an entitlement attitude - no matter what age. Show you are willing to receive the same training and opportunity as someone decades younger.

Good luck

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 06-02-2014 - 9:53pm

Your advice is spot on!!  May I offer a bit more?  I worked my first 20-year career in business--interviewing, hiring, training and managing staff.  The second 20-year career was in the healthcare field, as a Registered Dental Hygienist.  I was still finding jobs when I was 60, while younger people were not, so I might have some additional insight.

Keep up to date with education, equipment usage, and advancment in techniques in your field.  Nothing erases you from the running faster than not knowing how to use modern equipment, and not having an understanding of the current theories, models and techniques.  Don't fight, or ignore, continuing ed requirments.  Use them to keep your mind open and your hands flexible.

As an addendum to "Mind your social media", be aware that job hunting has changed.  Resumes have changed.  Jobs aren't in the Sunday paper anymore.  Even nurses and dental hygienists network.  Learn how to send a cover letter, and attach a resume, via email.  Check your email often, and respond QUICKLY to a request.  Learn how to send them via fax from your home computer.  Nothing says OLD faster than having to drive over to your local FedEx to send a fax...

An excellent way to make yourself flexible, to build that important network, and to see what other employers in your field are doing---and asking of their employees--is to go temping.  Even if you are still employed, you might be able to score some Saturday assignments.  Take any assignment offered to you.  Remember, if it's REALLY terrible, you only have to go there once. 

And as an addendum to "It's a diverse world", keep your thoughts about race, religion, and politics to YOURSELF.  You may have heard the old saw, "Loose lips, sink ships"?  Well, you are the ship.  Watch what you say, even if it is in passing, or in response to what you believe is just fluff conversation.  People do not wear signs that say they are liberal, conservative, gay, lesbian, transsexual,  pro-life, pro-choice, or have  spouses, inlaws, children or grandchildren who are (insert race, religion, or sexuality here).   A dismissive remark about landscapers, cleaning ladies, or those nuts holding signs downtown, may find you being ushered out the door, clueless.

Avatar for mourningthewicked
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Tue, 06-03-2014 - 10:57am

sabrtooth wrote:

And as an addendum to "It's a diverse world", keep your thoughts about race, religion, and politics to YOURSELF. You may have heard the old saw, "Loose lips, sink ships"? Well, you are the ship. Watch what you say, even if it is in passing, or in response to what you believe is just fluff conversation. People do not wear signs that say they are liberal, conservative, gay, lesbian, transsexual, pro-life, pro-choice, or have spouses, inlaws, children or grandchildren who are (insert race, religion, or sexuality here). A dismissive remark about landscapers, cleaning ladies, or those nuts holding signs downtown, may find you being ushered out the door, clueless.



Absolutely! People like to cry free speech, but free speech is NOT voicing your opinions wherever you are/want without repercussions.  What you actually have is the right to say most anything you want without being penalized by the government. The key here is you're protected from the government, not your place of work, not your family, not your friends, not the internet, so they can and will judge you however they want. 



“Are people born wicked, or is wickedness trust upon them?” 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-16-2013
Tue, 06-03-2014 - 11:40am

And I would like to add a piece of advice that is very helpful: Lose weight and stop smoking. You are competing with young energetic people for a job. Get yourself into shape and make sure you aren't barely able to lower yourself into a chair or struggling to get out of one or are huffing and puffing after walking across the building when you arrive for your interview.

Avatar for guili12737
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-23-1997
Tue, 06-03-2014 - 11:47am

I took the dates of my degrees off of my resume a while ago. I am 53 but don't look it. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that you have to put down your birthday on many job applications and almost all of the jobs that I have applied for require college transcripts. I am a librarian that has mostly worked in public schools. While I don't neccesarily think my age works against me, I often think that my years of experience work against me since in  public schools in my area, a faculty member must be paid for their years of experience as well as their degrees, in almost all districts.

There is absolutely nothing that I can do about my age, so I just keep plugging along. Currently, I'm underemployed as I am working on a per diem basis. I'm still hoping to get at least a regular part time, if not full time job.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-16-2013
Tue, 06-03-2014 - 11:52am

Along with your thoughts about race, religion, politics, etc. keep your health history to yourself. You are not required to disclose that you have a disability unless it interferes with your ability to carry out the essential functions of the job you’re applying for.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2012
Tue, 06-03-2014 - 12:04pm

I recently got to sit in on interviews at my job and a few things that hit me about the older applicants centered around their appearance. Whiten your teeth and attempt to wear something from this decade. Grey hair and wrinkles are okay but try to look like you are well maintained. Walk into the room with confidence and a smile on your face. The second you appear an opinion is formed, so make sure your appearance is the absolute best you can do.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2012
Tue, 06-03-2014 - 12:09pm

Oh yes! I recently got to sit in on interviews and it was shocking how much information people gave out on their health. Old and young alike-your interview is not the time to discuss whether or not the company insurance will cover your diabetes, upcoming surgeries, and mental health needs. ALL companies these days are trying to figure out how to cut health care costs. Whether it is legal or not, hiring sick or injured workers is not the way to get that done.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2013
Tue, 06-03-2014 - 1:13pm

My sister-in-law is the director of her organization and she said that often in interviews mostly older men (generally those in their 40's and older) will turn to the only other man in the room (my sister-in-law's assistant) and direct answers toward him. For the life of me I can't understand that but she claims it happens often enough that she finds it infuriating. Needless to say it immediately gets them crossed off the potential hire list.