Job Search Tips When You Are Over 40
Recently several job seekers over 40 have written to complain that they feel they have lost out on job opportunities because of their age. In many cases, they may be correct. But, probably not always.
For tips on resume preparation, interviewing, and salary negotiations for job seekers over 40, we interviewed Dr. Jan Cannon, author and founder of Cannon Career Development, Job-Hunt's Mid-Life Career Expert, and a career advisor with over 20 years of experience.
Why does age discrimination happen? Younger hiring managers may feel uncomfortable telling someone older what to do (like bossing around their parents).
They may also feel that someone older is not as technically savvy or as physically and mentally "quick" as someone younger. They may even suspect that you'll be out sick more often than someone younger. Frequently, an older worker is viewed as having higher salary expectations and, therefore, being more expensive to hire and retain.
So, how do you handle the situation?
Keep (or get) up-to-date with your profession and/or industry
Or, do a lot of research before you launch your job search to get back up to date (the Web is great for this!). This issue often torpedoes women who have taken a few months to a few years out of the job world to care for their children or other family members.
Learn the new software and the latest jargon before you send out your resume or apply for a job. Know who the important "players" are (companies, products or services, and people).
Since you need to get an interview to be considered, Job-Hunt Mid-Life Career Expert, Jan Cannon, recommends that you modify your resume:
your resume on your future and the job you are seeking. Don't
make it a laundry list of
everything you've ever done. Most jobs that you had more than
10 years ago shouldn't be included because they aren't relevant.
Change the "Education" section of your resume to "Education
and Training" and put your most recent training first. Include
the year and the source for each entry. This shows that your skills
are up-to-date. List your degrees following the more recent training.
selective if you have had a lot of jobs in the past 20 years.
Include only those that demonstrate the skills, experience, and/or industry knowledge you have that are directly relevant to the job you are seeking.
your resume to no more than 2 pages.
You only want to include the most relevant jobs, anyway. And, a longer resume is much less likely to be reviewed.
you must give your salary requirements to be considered,
specify a range, and indicate that your salary expectations are
appropriate for someone with your experience and "fair in
Next, Jan has several recommendations for that critical interview with the younger manager:
situations where you worked with younger people on an equal basis
or where you followed a younger leader.
on your experience and excellent attendance record.
peppy and energetic. Walk into the room with a brisk step, and
sit straight and alert in your chair.
Dress for success. Looking competent and confident goes a long
way toward convincing others that you are.
you are asked what salary you expect, respond by asking for the
salary range. When you hear the range, say that you are sure that
you fit within the range, even if you aren't completely sure.
The salary negotiation
Finally, Jan offers advice for the job offer and salary negotiation:
Try to postpone salary discussions until you have been offered the job. When they've offered you the job, you are in a much stronger position to explore options and to negotiate your starting salary.
Don't turn down a job because of the salary range until you've explored other ways to "sweeten the deal."
If the salary isn't high enough, think of how you might negotiate a better "total package" with things of value to you: the amount and timing of your first raise, more vacation time, lower health insurance co-pay, a company car, free parking, spousal travel on business trips, free tuition for your kids, etc.
Do turn down a job or a salary that doesn't "feel right" to you.
"Senior" Job Sites
Another thing the over-50 job seeker can do is visit a Website that specializes in jobs for "seniors," like Workforce50, an organization that matches over-50 job seekers with employers looking for experienced help.
People do discriminate in their hiring practices, but it is difficult to prove. The reality is that 21st century demographics, at least in the United States, are on the side of the older job seeker.
About the author...
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, NETability purchased Job-Hunt.org, which Susan has edited and published since. Susan also edits and publishes WorkCoachCafe.com. Follow Susan on Twitter at@jobhuntorg and on Google+.