Older job-seekers share one major complaint: ageism in the marketplace. Applicants of maturity face several unfortunate preconceptions as to their technical skills, their ability to get along with younger coworkers, their attitude towards change and their salary requirements. (For more on how to deal with these stereotypes, please check out my earlier piece for Huff/Post 50, "How Older Job-Seekers Can Overcome Their 3 Biggest Roadblocks.")
Despite these very real concerns, however, baby boomers are once again shattering social stereotypes and forging ahead to create new opportunities in the workforce. According to a recent article in the New York Daily News, "Employers Are Turning To Older Workers To Fill Job Needs," hiring managers are finally recognizing the added value that applicants of age and experience bring to an organization.
So, if you are an older job-seeker and have been worried that you are no longer viewed as a viable candidate in today's workplace, it is time to reconsider your outlook. Focus on the special talents, personal strengths and extensive background you have developed over the years. Present yourself as a can-do candidate with the confidence, energy and multiple skill sets that make you a valuable addition to any team. And don't be shy about voicing the ways that your age provides you with certain advantages over younger applicants.
In fact, here are just eight of the reasons your maturity is a giant plus:
- You have extensive market knowledge and a well-honed skill set gained over years of experience. You know the competitors, recognize the needs of the customers and understand the demands of the work in general.
- Because you have faced and overcome numerous challenges on the job, your critical thinking and problem-solving skills are more highly developed than those of younger workers. You are also likely to handle crises and unexpected situations better due to your background and knowledge.
- You have an extensive network of customers, coworkers, colleagues and friends. Moreover, because many in your network are older, they are far more likely to have senior-level contacts who can connect you with other decision-makers within an organization.
- Your communication skills (especially written language) far excel those of younger applicants. Due to your earlier training, you have learned to express yourself in a professional manner both in-person and in writing.
- You have life skills gained over years of experience dealing with people. You can get along with others, know how to manage your emotions at work and you realize the importance of being a contributing team member.
- You have a mature work ethic. You understand the value of being responsible, showing up on time, and following through to complete assigned tasks.
- You tend to be more appreciative of the job, complain less and require little, if any, supervision.
- You have the knowledge and ability to mentor younger workers and teach them the valuable techniques and tools that translate into ongoing success for the organization.
These are just some of the benefits you bring with you as a seasoned applicant. Your age has gifted you with several positive attributes that will be attractive to employers if you present yourself from a position of strength. Therefore, do not apologize or feel at a disadvantage because of your age. Be proud of the added personal value and professional expertise you bring as a candidate of maturity.
And, above all, remember that maintaining a positive attitude is critical to the success of your job search. Focus on the advantages of your experience, stress your enthusiasm for the position, show how you will contribute and make certain to highlight your assets as you network and during a job interview.
With the right opportunity, a bit of luck, and the right attitude, you just might find yourself landing your next job before the start of the holiday season. And that would be something to really feel thankful for!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!