Monday, May 25, 2009
Over 50 and Looking for Work?
by Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, The EQ Coach
As a midlife transition career coach, I often encounter clients are are initially afraid they won't get hired because of their age. They've all gotten good jobs, but I decided to verify my experience with some senior HR professionals. Here's what they told me:
Q: Is age an issue?
A1: "Age is never an issue, unless you're talking about an actual physical-labor job."
A2: "Age is never a determining factor, legally, and it's not relevant to common sense or anything else."
A3: "Thinking age is a drawback is screamingly wrong. Especially in software, if you can find someone with 25 years experience, they're gold. The perspective is so mind-bogglingly good when you get a team that's diverse in age."
Q: Is age an asset then?
A: "Age is not a determining factor. Experience, now that's an asset. For any job that requires experience in the industry or market, where it truly matters in making sound decisions and producing quality, experience is an asset."
Q: What kind of jobs are those?
A: "Every job you can think of."
Q: Should you only go back 10 years on your resume?
"Only if you're afraid of looking old."
Q: How many resumes do you get per listing? What gets your attention?
A1: "I get 400-500 resumes for each position I list. From that I'll choose 2-3 clear candidates. I'd give everyone the same advice: ·Apply for jobs you have the capabilities for. ·Write your resume like a newspaper article ' a catchy headline (not jazzy); something that would interest the hirer. ·Put what you are at the top. ·List your technical skills right beneath it and relevant experience, and a summary of your work history. ·Don't fabricate your experience, skills or education. We check.'
A2: "Don't write your life story. If I have to dig for something it's gone."
A3: "Rewrite your resume for every position you apply for."
Q: How best can you present yourself on an interview?
· Clean appearance
· Good communication skills
· Look like you'll be pleasant to work with
· Wear a nice suit that fits
· Come in prepared to meet people for the first time, have a smile on your face ' genuine one, not fake.
· Enjoy yourself, you've made the cut.
· Be enthusiastic.
Q: So once you're in the door, it's the emotional intelligence competencies that count?
A: "Yes. If you're actually called in, it's a matter of not talking them out of hiring you."
Q: Is it a numbers game then?
A: "No, it's the opposite of a numbers game. Apply only for jobs you have the capabilities for. Write a unique resume for each position. Don't just go to monster.com and click 'send resume.' Be selective."
Q: Do you post your positions online?
A: "About 50% of positions are filled through referrals. I post all my positions on www.monster.com. Also they should check www.careerbuilders.com ."
Q: Why do you think there's such concern about age?
A: "I don't know. It's screamingly wrong. Especially in software, if you can find someone with 25 years experience, they're gold. The perspective is so mind-bogglingly good when you get a team that's diverse in age. Look, according to the Age Discrimination & Employment Act, a 'protected older worker' is anyone over 40. Do you have any idea how many people that covers?"
Q: What about negative things in your work history?
A: "The way we look at it in HR is the reason you're here is because something wasn't right where you were. We've all been there. Why is it any worse to have been fired? Don't sugar coat things. I'll ask your reason for leaving and I'll check your references."
A2: "The Texas Truth in Hiring Act says any ex-employer can give any information as long as it's true. So I might ask you former boss, 'Did you fire her?' 'No.' 'Did you ask for her resignation?' 'Yes.' 'Why?' 'Because ....'. I ask the candidate beforehand, 'When I call your references, am I going to hear anything you might consider negative?' and then I listen."
Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, THE EQ COACH, http://www.susandunn.cc. Coaching for all your personal and business needs. EQ coach training and certification. Intensives in the D. C. area. Free ezine. Call 817-734-1471 for coaching.