On July 2, 2010, CNNMoney.com ran an interesting article about older job candidates. Click here to read the article. It stated that “Companies are starting to hire again, but many are turning their backs on older job seekers.” The piece went on to say, “The nationwide unemployment rate for older workers – while lower than that of younger workers – has barely moved since hitting a record high of 7.2% in December of 2009. This rate is currently 7.1%.”
Here at Career Potential, we work with many senior executives who would be considered “mature workers.” When it comes to age discrimination, these older job seekers have more control and recourse than they may think.
You can’t change your chronological age, so don’t waste mental energy thinking about it. But here are four practical strategies that can dramatically increase your chances of landing a great job at any age:
1. Energy level. Even if you’re a mature worker, it’s important to maintain a high level of energy and project real vitality. This allows you to take-on challenging projects, keep-up with the fast pace of business, and get things done quickly. So show-up early, move fast throughout the day, and work hard. It’s essential to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
2. Technology skills. As an older candidate, you didn’t grow-up in the computer age. But it’s critical that you learn and practice technical skills. Get over your technophobia! Employers are much more likely to hire mature workers who can demonstrate strong computer skills and a comfort level with technology in general. This is a great way to compete effectively with younger candidates.
3. Personal image. It‘s always important to look your best, and this is especially true when looking for a job. Pay close attention to your appearance. You can make a more positive impression by updating your hairstyle, eyeglasses, shoes and many other personal items. Your wardrobe may also need a “makeover” to look more stylish. Ask friends, family members and younger associates for candid feedback about your personal image, and welcome their comments non-defensively.
4. Company culture. Research the culture of your prospective employer. If everyone at the company is 20 to 30 years old, with rings through their noses and spiked blue hair, then the firm not likely to hire an older candidate like you. On the other hand, there are companies that have a reputation for attracting and hiring mature workers. These firms actually like to have “adult supervision,” and they’ll pay a premium for your greater levels of experience and wisdom. For example, The Week Magazine recently stated, “Aim for a sector that caters to older clientele, such as banking or tourism.”
The CNNMoney article concluded by saying, “Some businesses do see the advantages of hiring older workers. Besides the opportunity to get the experience and lifetime of skills that older workers bring, they are actually more likely to stay put for longer than younger workers, thus reducing job turnover and the costs associated with hiring and training. Some analytical managers have figured this out. Unfortunately for older workers, it's not common knowledge just yet.”
As the old saying goes, “The best defense is a strong offense.” So, follow the suggestion from The Week Magazine’s July 2, 2010 edition, which said, “Instead of hiding your age, go on the offensive and sell yourself as a mature person!”