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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

10 Things to Consider If You're an Older Job-Seeker (2)

4. Be modern – typically what I have seen is that the older the interviewee, the more formal the attire – and sometimes this can be overkill. Dressing too formally can hurt your interview just as dressing too casually can. For example, leave your double-breasted suit at home and wear dress khakis, a dress shirt, a tie and a sports coat instead. Women should wear suits with pants or a skirt but not a dress. Yes, dress to impress but keeping mind the style and culture of the company and the job before deciding how formal. Also, are your glasses from the 70s and your hairstyle is the same one you have had for 20 years? Perhaps it is time for an update! There is no crime is being a mature job seeker, but the more you try to be modern, the better. Another thing I have noticed with more mature workers is that men typically use cologne and strong aftershave – please use a very light touch or don’t use them at all when interviewing as it is a distraction to the interviewer.

5. Keep up to date on software: If you are in fact out of date with some of the newer software programs or office machines, seek out help at your local college or community center. The more versed you are in the current programs, the better – and remember that employers rule out older workers often with questions about software that you can't answer – don’t let this happen to you! Do some research by looking through job listings on company websites, job boards and in the paper and take note of the technical skills needed for the area of work you are targeting.

6. Do not put your birth-date on your resume or cover letter (or other personal information like marital status or Social Security # for that matter) – this was commonly done years ago but not only does this lead to potential identify theft but this information will advertise your age. A lot of employers could care less the age of their employees, but why not let the employer judge you on your experience and accomplishments as opposed to your age?

7. Only list a maximum of 15 years of employment history on your resume – reason for this is that prior to that, your experience may not be as relevant. If it happens that the employer asks about previous experience in an interview, keep it short and sweet and focus more on what you have done more recently. Information overload can happen when you bring out your entire history and the employer may have a hard time remembering what you said! Also, if your diploma or degree was earned more than 20 years ago, just delete the dates on your resume. Some people leave out listing experience beyond 15 years but leave the dates of their education – and this can lead to discrimination.

8. Try not to reminisce. One of the reasons you don’t want to go back to your early career on your resume or in the interview is that often employers will want to ask you all about the “good old days” at that mythic company and “are all the rumors true?” Believe me, I have seen employers bring candidates in just for kicks. Stick to talking about the company’s current needs and how you can help them fulfill these needs. Talk about similar projects and how you could do the same for them.

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  1. As a 40 something, I may not be SO mature as an employee yet, the ideas you provided were greatly appreciated as they are useful to me as well to evitate several pitfalls that I have found of late in my job search.
    Thank you.

  2. People guess I am in my late 40s or early 50s; I am really a decade older. I agree, taking care of yourself (regular exercise, skincare) and a current "look" makes a huge difference. I am in the job market for the 1st time in 25 years. I have a great resume, work samples, MA and MBA, change my resume emphasis to suit the advertised job. I have had a half dozen interviews, am very upbeat and flexible, yet do feel age is always the unspoken issue when the comment is "too experienced." (After all, they did see my resume before they called me in!) But their loss, I remain confident I have a lot to offer and my new employer is out there. We just need to keep looking for someone smart enough to recognize our value.


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