If you're over 40 and searching for a job, you're competing with a vast pool of younger candidates. How do you stand out? How do you convince an employer to hire you over someone half your age? How do you turn your age into an asset? The career experts below share inside knowledge on how to set yourself apart and highlight your strengths, abilities and special talents as an older worker in today's competitive environment.
Job Interview Tips for Older Workers
Create a Portfolio. "Create a portfolio with photos, reports, recommendations, charts and spreadsheets that you have created throughout your career. Use it during interviews to 'show-n-tell' about your experiences. A visual representation of your work demonstrates your qualifications better than anything you could ever say." - Madelyn Mackie, founder, owner, and Chief Career Activator at ActivateYourCareerDreams.com.
Research Your Employer. "Prior to applying or going for an interview, prepare a straightforward summary outlining the most important elements about the company. I like to use two pages broken out by text boxes with the heading and points for each text box. The headings are: company culture, management team and background, products and services, competition, how the position will contribute to the company, any pressure points the company is currently facing. Take this to the interview and most interviewers will be very impressed with the amount of research you've done." - Tom Armour, co-founder of High Return SelectionT, helping companies implement advanced methods to attract, engage and retain top talent.
Interview Yourself First. "Interview yourself, pretending you have been assigned the task to interview candidates for the job you're applying for. What questions would you ask? What answers would you want to hear? What are you hoping they don't say? It's good to put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer if you haven't been on an interview in a while." - Marc Cenedella is the founder and CEO TheLadders, a job-matching service for career-driven professionals.
View the Interview as a Consultancy. "Provide a solution to a problem that the potential employer has, perhaps in the interview and most assuredly in the thank you note. Your solution will give the manager an idea of how you think, what you would contribute to the team and how you would make your boss look good to those that matter most." - Janet Falk, public relations professional and small business consultant
Display Energy. "There is a trick that stage actors use before entering a high-energy scene. They run in place in the wings first, so that they bring the right energy with them when they make their entrance. I always notice a candidate's level of energy and enthusiasm first when I am interviewing on a hiring project for a client." - Doug Hickok, strategic planner and business coach for entrepreneurs with the Institute for Provocative leadership.
Showcase Transferable Skills. "Older workers can most effectively land a job in today's competitive market by showcasing transferable knowledge, skills, and abilities that are mainly obtained through experience. Older workers are typically better equipped to communicate effectively at various organizational levels, resolve conflicts favorably, and exhibit greater patience than their younger counterparts." - Lynda Zugec, managing director at The Workforce Consultants, a human resource consulting firm with over 300 specialists worldwide.
Show You Can Hit the Ground Running. "Employers want employees who will hit the ground running whatever their age. They don't want employees who need a lot of training and have to be guided at every step. Employees over 40 have an advantage because they can hit the ground running. Show the following in an interview:
- You can hit the grand running.
- You have the experience and knowledge.
- You need little or no training.
- You have kept up with technology and social media.
- You have good judgment and are a problem solver.
- You are a self-starter.
- Mary Greenwood, HR director, attorney, and author of How to Interview Like a Pro, 43 Rules For Getting Your Next Job, winner of eleven book awards.
Display an Upbeat Attitude. "It's about your attitude, not your age. Lots of people who arrive at the interview with an upbeat attitude get hired every day. If that person isn't you, then perhaps it's time for a shift in your thinking." - Roberta Chinsky Matuson, President of Human Resource Solutions, expert for Monster's small business portal and author of Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around.
Demonstrate Enthusiasm. "Demonstrate a high energy-level and show significant enthusiasm during interviews. More experienced candidates may sometimes come across as well-qualified, but less eager than younger candidates. Demonstrate a real sense of excitement for the position you are interested in. Maintaining positive energy will help employers quickly connect with you." - Claire Herring, former senior manager at Deloitte & Touche, and co-creator of DaisyBrains.com