by Joe Turner
While it's true that not all employers will be gung-ho about hiring, or even retaining, older workers in the coming years, the overall statistics might well be on your side, if you're 50+ years. As has been reported often enough, the limited numbers of workers in the Gen-Y age group will not match the rising need for workers over the next 10 years.
This discrepancy means that employers will be faced with more vacancies that force them to look at alternate labor sources. Sure, they can outsource, further automate, or contract their staffing ranks, but these approaches will not suffice in all cases.
The plain fact is that you hold many advantages over your younger colleagues, but you will need to play your age to your advantage. If you have a few years under your belt, here are four tips on how to use age as an advantage in your job hunt:
Go on the Offensive
Too often, older workers feel they have to apologize for their years of actually working. Remind yourself that you're experienced, not old. You're seasoned, not over-the-hill. You're here-and-now, not history. It's all about spin and reframing, so drop the apologies.
You may be an older worker, but you're not stupid, and you're not dead. Use your savvy to sell against youth and inexperience. The benefits to being older, like having wisdom and common sense, and a long work record of accomplishments, can translate into benefits to the employer. In other words, sell your track record. During the interview, take advantage of your successful work history and draw from those successes to meet the employer's needs.
Sell Results, Not Years
Realize that hiring managers today are looking for results, not years. Talk the language that an employer understands and appreciates, which is Return-on-Investment. Instead of citing 20-years of experience, identify your benefits to the employer and put them into monetary terms as much as possible. Back up your accomplishments with benefit-based facts. Sell them from the perspective of the result of your work and how it positively impacted your present and previous employers.
Money talks, and it talks loudly. Here's some good news: Money can trump age. As an employee, you either make money or save money for your employer. If the hiring manager doesn't see your value in one of these two categories, then you don't want to work for this company. In a recession, if the company isn't concerned about its bottom line, then it may not be around for long, and isn't a viable option for you anyway. Get as close to money as you possibly can through the language of your accomplishments, and list them on your resume.
Wear Just One Hat
While you may have accumulated experience in a number of areas, don't confuse the reader with all the varied roles and jobs you performed over the years. Focus only on the job title for which you're applying. Tell the hiring decision-maker what he or she wants to know, and nothing more. Most likely you've worn many different hats during your career. If you had experiences thast don't directly address the job title's requirements, don't emphasize them. In fact, remove them from your resume entirely, if possible, as they will only give employers another reason to screen you out, and you don't want that. This is your story. Tell it your way. Magnify only the aspects of your background that are relevant to your target objective. You want to focus your resume to reflect yourself in the most positive, powerful ways possible.
Modify Your Resume
Take another look at your resume. Ask, "would I hire myself for this position?" Spin your story in your favor by reworking your resume to emphasize your strengths. Make sure everything on it relates in some way to your desired job objective. Drop older job titles. You generally shouldn't need to show more than 10 years' work history. Any prior work is most likely irrelevant now and will take the reader off track. Remove college degree dates and other older professional training dates that may go back more than a few years.
If you're an older, experienced worker, you don't have to take a one-down position in the hiring process. While there will be age discrimination with some employers, you can still stack the deck in your favor. Focus on the employer's needs and draw from successes in your past to provide solid return-on-investment answers to their questions. Remember, it's about being honest, but also about emphasizing your strengths rather than magnifying your vulnerabilities. If you do so, you can find a great job regardless of the economy.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Author of Job Search Secrets Unlocked and Paycheck 911, Joe has interviewed on radio talk shows and offers free insider job search secrets.
Take advantage of all of the tools, resources, and samples in our Job and Career Resources for Mature and Older Job-Seekers -- Including the Baby Boomers, Third-Agers.