Looking for work is daunting for anybody. Considering all those hours spent sending out applications and getting nothing in return. Even if you do manage to make it to the interview stage, you’re up against so many other equally qualified candidates. It’s difficult to make yourself stand out from the crowd. These problems are all seemingly magnified if you’re an older job candidate.
You may feel that you’ll never get hired, especially if you’re up against a lot of younger applicants. These applicants are likely to have a degree, and are often used to getting paid a lower salary. Employers may also prefer to hire someone younger because they’ll be working longer before retiring. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are actually a lot of benefits to being older than your competitors. It’s all about how you sell yourself both on the application and in an interview. If you’re worried about your age affecting your job search, here’s how you can beat younger job candidates.
Focus On Practical Experience
Even though you might think that employers are always going to go for a younger applicant, that’s not necessarily true. Sure, more and more young people are getting degrees. Yet, they enter the workforce without any tangible experience. You may think that having a degree makes them more qualified. In actuality, employers are now starting to give more weight towards experience over education. Employers often worry that, while the younger applicants have all of the right qualifications, they haven’t had any work experience.
As an older job candidate, play up the wealth of your work experience. Don’t just focus on the skills that you have. Be sure to talk about the other aspects of experience that you can only obtain while on the job. Vital experiences such as forming good relationships with coworkers, dealing with disputes, managing your time effectively. etc. It’s with these things that the younger applicants won’t have much experience. And hopefully, it can really help you to land that job or advance in the interview.
Tailor Your Experience
You might think that having a lot of job experience is going to work in your favor as an older job candidate. It will, but you should also be careful. If you list it all, that’s just another way to highlight the age difference between you and the other candidates. Instead, you should look at what is actually relevant to the job for which you are applying. You can simply include a short summary of your other work history. If you think that there are elements of those jobs that will work in your favor, add these to the skills section.
If you’re a parent who is returning to work after a long while, that job gap might be a worry for you. It doesn’t always look good if you haven’t worked for a long while. But, it’s only a problem if you don’t have a valid reason for it. If you took time out of work to raise a family, you should be upfront about it. Don’t worry how it will affect your application. In fact, the skills that you need as a parent are often transferable to the workplace. Dealing with crisis situations, managing time, organizing your day etc. are all vital skill learned while parenting. If you’ve had a job gap for any other reason, you need to be honest about the reasons why. Be honest about the job layoff or downsizing. Above all, be prepared with your response. Did you volunteer or lead a church group during your down time? These are solid experience points in a non-traditional job setting.
Learn New Skills
There is always going to be a varying amount of skills difference between all age groups. Certain skills, particularly computer skills, come more naturally to the younger generations. As an older job candidate, you can easily match them if you take the time to learn. There are so many free online courses that can help you boost your computer skills. Using your spare time to learn new skills to improve your work performance will impress employers. It will show that you’re serious about getting the job. Also, having a basic understanding of social media is important as it plays bigger role in business nowadays. Even if it isn’t a part of the job role that you’re applying for, it’s still important to know the basics.
Beyond that, you should try to add any other skills that might set you apart from the rest of the applicants. First aid training is a good idea because all workplaces are legally required to have some first aid trained members of staff. Being able to hire somebody that already has the training saves an employer time and money. So, it’s a good thing to add that to your resume. You can get a bls certification online for less than $20 so there’s no reason not to. Again, this shows a lot of initiative which employers will love.
Style Yourself Young
Appearance isn’t everything but it is important to maintain a current style. Update your look by dressing accordingly. It doesn’t mean you have to buy a whole new wardrobe. However, look into some of the latest trends. For example, tie width is a fashion that changes a lot. If you walk in with a big chunky tie and everybody else is wearing a thin one, it immediately shows your age. Get a haircut and ask for a slightly younger style. You don’t need to do anything too drastic. Perhaps buy a new blouse or blazer with a modern cut. Keeping up with certain fashion trends can show that you are up to date and current.
The way that employers conduct interviews has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. They often use behavioral interviewing techniques and they expect a lot more of their candidates. Give pertinent and strong examples of how you’ve used the skills that you listed on your resume. Make sure you have some prepared before you go in for your interview. You might also participate in a group interview. This may be an unfamiliar situation to a lot of older job candidates. The best way to prepare yourself is to look up interview questions online. This will give you an idea of what kind of questions that will likely be asked. It never hurts to be prepared so you can ace that job interview!
Looking for a new job is already tough. Sometimes, it seems that being an older job candidate makes the search even harder. If you follow these tips, you can turn your age into an asset, not a downfall, and land that job with ease.
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