Job Search

A Challenge for Boomers?

By Jim Worden

Were you born between 1946 and 1964? Have you been in a job search during the last ten years? Will you be in a job search in the next ten years? Be careful about answering that one too quickly.

If you answered yes to any of those questions, the thought of age discrimination has probably crossed your mind. Instead of wasting time worrying about something you can’t change, focus on the positive things you can do to increase your chance of winning the job regardless of your age.

There are three key factors in hiring:
Skills – Do your skills, degrees and professional certifications match the job specifications?

Results – Are your RESULTS stories in a simple Situation|Action|Result format?

Like – Do they feel you will fit in with their existing team? If not, you probably wouldn’t like working there anyway.

Areas to focus on to minimize age as an issue:
Energy – Look and speak with energy. A simple thing like standing during your phone screen interview makes a difference in how you sound on the other end.

Appearance – Are your clothes, hair and general appearance consistent with current fashion?

Skills – Are you comfortable with technology in general, and are you up to date in your field of expertise?

In my work as a job coach, I discuss the age question almost every day with people who are approaching retirement, and some just graduating from college. Yes, the age question works both ways. Those of us who are experienced may be considered overqualified while recent grads are sometimes considered not experienced enough.

Be careful also about saying, “I could do this job in my sleep.” A prospective employer might agree, but feel that means you’ll be easily bored and unhappy in the role.

There are many things in your control and out of your control during the job search. Your age is clearly not in your control. Claiming you are younger violates my primary rule of interviewing, “Don’t lie!” The important thing to keep uppermost in mind is to focus your time and effort on presenting your skills, your experience and yourself completely and positively. That gives your prospective employer and you the best chance of making the right match that will lead to success for both of you.

Following a 28-year career in Issue Management/Crisis Communication with a global manufacturing company, Worden now uses his communication skills to help people speed up their job search.