You can be smart about combatting ageism in your job search. Be encouraged, the workforce is getting older and there is a move to promote age diversity in the market. That said, it is taking a while for most organisations to catch up with a wider cultural shift. Below is an expansion on the nine tips I shared in the last post on how to be savvy about ageism bias at work.
Know Your Value as a Problem Solver
First, know your VALUE as a problem solver and craft your elevator pitch accordingly. Your commercial value to a company will come from what problems you can solve for them. Make sure you can articulate how you have done this in the past.
Have a Social Media Profile
Secondly, be on social media (at the very least Linkedin WITH a photo – see my LinkedIn networking post). One of the best ways for us to relate to millennials and the workforce at large is through info sharing technology. Research companies on Twitter. Follow trends in technology/gadgets and avoid referring to the “good old days”. Just about every library and local adult education college has easy-to-access and subsidised courses where you can brush up your skills and confidence.
Lean on Your Network
Thirdly, leverage your network. More than 70% of jobseekers land their job through a new contact. As a recruiter, I will consider personal recommendations first. I will always reference profiles with people I know who may have worked with them. Networking boosts confidence and influences good outcomes. I’ve just hired someone who had been out for thirteen years but happily had kept their network fresh.
Enjoy Being Out and About – It is Life Affirming
Furthermore be out and about, enjoying practising your sales pitch. This is energising. Listen to what is happening in the market, picking up the new language of business. There is a great body in the UK and US called “Meetup” where you can look for local business groups that gather. It is amazing how quickly you can find out about training and further more relevant industry networking groups. Contacts really are your best bet for picking up opportunities. If someone can meet you and pick up on your charisma and physical energy, most of the work is done! Be ready to answer Tell Me About Yourself at every opportunity.
An Excuse for New Shoes
While you are out meeting and greeting it’s good to update your personal style. Just a wee update. Look at Instagram and Pinterest for outfit update ideas. Investing in a new pair of shoes and glasses from this half of the decade is advisable in general! You’ll still need to dress “one level up” from the standard office garb for interview. It is so tempting to be practical and comfy but not for first impressions.
Exude Your Vitality
Besides your updated look, focus on projecting vitality, interest and enthusiasm. I have more energy for work now than I did at 30 because I know how to channel it. We learn to become better stewards of our energy reserves. Comments like “I’m too tired for that now” should be dropped. If only 7% of first impression is the words you say, this is key.
Be Prepared to Learn – from Younger People
Be ready to demonstrate your excitement about mentoring or coaching a team AS WELL AS LEARNING FROM THEM. Showing you are keen to learn and have a growth mindset makes you a really attractive proposition. Showing you have awareness of your own learning edges shows your humanness. This is more appealing than telling everyone else how things worked ten years ago. You will sound like a dinosaur and have no friends to go to coffee with! Coffees, lunches and the social side of being back at work is so affirming…you won’t want to miss out.
“Bespoke” Your CV
In closing, accept some help on your CV. Tailor your CV for each job, matching the keywords on your CV to a job specification. Save a bespoke version of your CV for each company that you apply to. This helps demonstrate that you are a great fit. Concentrate on the last 12 – 15 years. recruiters wont’ really look at anything beyond that. Google “How to format resumes for applicant tracking systems” although don’t rely on these for job sources – your network will always, always be better.
Listen (and Laugh!)
One final point: at interview, listen, listen, listen and make sure you answer the questions. Less than 10% of a conversation is communicated through words, so the real power comes in stopping and waiting for non-verbal cues. Nobody likes a “transmit only” bore. My experience helps make the team a “safe place” to be. I bring perspective, focus, I am empathetic and a good reader of people. I can laugh at myself and know what I am there to do.
You can bring all of this as well and the workforce is better off with you in it. Please do the market a favour and come back with all of your wisdom, experience and perspective.