It is common that older candidates believe that there are no opportunities available for aged applicants. There is hope and not all is lost after you have absorbed the knowledge here.


NEXT

It is always interesting to listen to the opinions of several people on age barriers and job hunting. Depending on their age, beliefs, and other factors, you will hear several different opinions, and probably no two alike. It is true that in job seeking, "being too old" is certainly often a negative. It is also true, however, that many people are unhappily employed because they believe they are too old to change jobs. This need not be the case.

At a senior age, winning a new job is seldom a simple task. However, despite any difficulties in adjustment that may be required, a good job change can bring you a totally new feeling about life. The excitement of new work, a new location, and new associates may provide mental stimulation and good feelings that help you look and act ten years younger.

Age becomes a major problem only at that point when you mentally accept it as an obstacle. There are many things you can do to offset the imagined and real problems associated with age, starting with an examination of your own beliefs and attitudes.

Mindset

Ask yourself first, are you using age as a convenient excuse for not starting a job search? Many people who either do not have the confidence, don't know how to search for a job, or aren't willing to go through the work, will use age as an excuse. If that is so in your case, you need to address it honestly, so you can begin to take action.

There are several things you need to write down and remind yourself of daily. Consider this. At this moment you possess all the skills, knowhow and personal strengths that enabled you to make significant contributions to employers over the years. They can be applied today to help literally tens of thousands of employers.

So the question is not whether you should seek a new job, or seek a job if you are unemployed. It is what should you say and how should you say it, so that you get your "selling proposition" across to as many suitable employers as possible, with the goal of having at least one person in one company making the decision to hire you.

Next, remember this. Today there are several young industries, many associated with information technology and the Internet, including thousands of recently formed companies with young managements, and their emphasis is definitely on youth. Despite that emphasis, you are likely to find in most of them at least one older individual who delivers results and is highly valued. In some cases you will find several older, highly valued employees.

Don't forget that several studies have shown older employees to be more stable and reliable. Many are just as quick to pick up new information and techniques as other age groups. Several young managements realize that they need to be balanced out with some maturity and seasoning, and will actually prefer an older candidate for functions such as finance and administration.

Another daily reminder concerns your beliefs and attitudes. It is a well known fact among psychologists who study such things, that we are limited or not limited according to our beliefs about ourselves and what is possible for us, and that we are generally treated by others in accord with our expectations about how they will treat us.

Because we tend to get what we expect, and because people tend to reflect back to us the beliefs and attitudes we are projecting, examine your beliefs about yourself and about what is possible for you in your career at this stage. If your beliefs are limiting or negative, work on them. Recognize that all of us filter reality through our attitudes and beliefs, so what we perceive doesn't necessarily reflect reality, but just the way we are seeing it at the moment.

If you have for any length of time held a lot of limiting beliefs related to age, it's very likely that your "filter" has been darkened and distorted toward the negative, and has been reinforced by many of those around you. Write down your beliefs in this area, not as fact, but as beliefs. Start each one with the words, "I believe."

If any of them are negative or limiting, then write a corresponding positive version. As you may know, any belief can be justified by the facts, depending upon which facts you choose to focus upon. Intentionally use "selective perception" to focus on and write down all the events which support the positive beliefs and ignore any which support the negative.

If the daily newspaper is full of only negative news, don't read it. If it's talking about John Glenn's space flight at age 77, or about some fellow who's still working in a factory at age 83, an 80-year-old woman who is a successful entrepreneur, or a man who runs a barber shop at age 96, cut that article out and refer to it often. Choose to read only positive literature, listen to positive tapes, and to music that makes you feel good, particularly the music that was popular when you were young. Engage in physical activity that energizes you.

Visualize yourself being warmly greeted by interested prospective employers, and make corresponding verbal affirmations. Visualization has proven effective in many fields, including sports and medicine, and there is no reason to doubt that it also works in job changing.

These activities will help you to see the world in a brighter perspective. You will gradually develop more positive expectations about what is possible for you and how people will react to you. Remember, such expectations have a lot to do with how we are treated and the kinds of events we experience.

In recent years you may have been subconsciously projecting to the world that you yourself feel you're too old for any good job opportunities, so it's time to start changing that message and bring into focus the good times. Working consciously to intentionally build positive beliefs and expectations is one way to do it.

Resume

Do not mention your age on the resume. The resume does not need to include every bit of experience you ever had, so you may choose to leave out earlier experience altogether, or simply summarize years of earlier experience under the heading, "Previous."

As a general rule, emphasize only the last ten years and your achievements during that time. Do not include the year of graduation from college, but if you have completed courses or gotten an advanced degree recently, do include the date. If any of your leisure activities require physical exertion, mention them.

Interviews / e-mail / Letters

You may wish to use e-mail or letters instead of a resume for your initial contact with employers. They can be more easily structured to selectively cover dates, length of experience and other factors, so that your age is not apparent.

In all correspondence, and in interviews, emphasize those characteristics which represent the best of both youth and experience. It will be to your advantage to highlight your sound business judgment and solid record of achievement, as well as your versatility and adaptability, a high energy level, and proven capacity for delivering results in a fast-paced, demanding environment.

In interviews your maturity will be obvious. Point out that you bring the experience and judgment of a seasoned performer, combined with the enthusiasm and energy level of a person who is excited about his or her job, and expects to make significant contributions.

It will be to your advantage to direct the interview to a discussion of the functional areas where they need help. Ask questions that direct the discussion toward the functions and personal strengths that will be most important for the person who wins the job, and when they are identified, relate examples of how you have used those precise abilities and strengths to make significant contributions to your employer.

The most memorable and credible way to do that is through concise situation-action-result format stories which show that you analyzed situations well, took appropriate actions, and achieved measurable results. The actions in particular should show that you have an energetic, aggressive approach to getting things done, as well as knowhow and knowledge in the areas most important for the job.

Remember, if you project, self-confidence, high energy, enthusiasm and positive expectations, you are quite likely to be treated and responded to accordingly.

Actions

Consider enrolling in a course related to business, preferably one geared to your function, to demonstrate that you perceive yourself as actively learning and focused on advancing in your career.

As you become older, your need to make a good impression becomes even more vital. If you're not in good physical condition, consult with a doctor and start a regular program of exercising. Consult with health and beauty professionals to make sure your appearance is at its best. Avoid dated clothing, and invest in higher quality, better tailored clothing appropriate for the level of position and income you are seeking.

When choosing the types of positions and industries you are targeting, give a lot of thought to how closely you can match your strengths and achievements to those which are likely to be required for those positions. Ask yourself, "If I were doing the hiring for that position, why would I hire someone with my background?"

Examine your past contributions closely, and take sufficient time to prepare and rehearse several action-oriented stories that demonstrate your talent for moving rapidly to get results in the types of situations that resemble those likely to be faced by the person who wins the job you are seeking.

Look for as many specific result indications as possible. Be prepared to give a wealth of evidence in the form of these memorable stories. They will reassure the prospective employer that, from your perspective, age is not a factor, and you are more than ready to dig into challenging problems and opportunities.

Develop and coach enthusiastic references from selected individuals you can trust inside your employer organization, if possible, and from outside of it, e.g., customers, suppliers, sales reps, consultants, etc., who will be happy to attest to your high energy level, action orientation, ambition, and ability to deliver results in a demanding, fast-paced environment.

Review your resume with these references, and make sure they keep a copy available to scan when and if they are called. You can if you choose give them "special assignments," where in addition to an overall enthusiastic endorsement, each of them will be expected to emphasize a different strength or ability in a special functional area.

This step will enable you to make the statement in an interview that, "You've heard about my achievements, but only from me. You really need to hear it from people who have seen me in action. Experience in Function X is important to you, and for that I suggest you contact Tom Jones. Experience in Function Y is also essential, and for that you'll get good input from Phil White. Personal traits A and B are needed for this job, and the people who would know best about that are Sue Griffith and Bill Robbins." It would be to my benefit if you contact all of them, and I hope you will."

Such a statement will erase any lingering doubts about your being ready and able to turn in outstanding results, and reinforce that age is simply not a consideration in terms of measuring your potential value.


NEXT