This post was written for our partners at iRelaunch, a career reentry consulting, training, and events company focused on bringing professionals back into the workforce after an extended leave.
The job search process is one of the more daunting experiences most of us will have in our careers. It can become even more challenging when you have entered 50+ territory. While age discrimination is illegal under the ADEA act of 1967, that does not mean it does not exist, whether real or perceived. According to an analysis by the AARP Public Policy Institute in March 2020, job seekers 55+ spent 19.4% longer looking for work compared to all adults. This COVID world will likely add yet another layer of complexity and uncertainty.
Whether you looking to re-enter the job market after several years (or more), have recently chosen to travel down a different career path or have had that decision made for you, finding a new employment can be downright overwhelming. As a mature, experienced job seeker, you have much to offer. You strongly believe there’s no replacement for experience. Presumptions aside, it remains critically important to present your best, most marketable self. Here are some useful ideas to think about.
- Know Your Audience – If you are interviewing with someone who is younger than you, don’t push too hard on your years of experience. They already know all about having read your resume. The risk is it could make the hiring manager feel as if you are gunning for their job. In such circumstances, the last thing they will do is bring you into the fold. Instead…
- Consider The Consigliere Role – Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) provided sound advice and counsel to Don Corleone in The Godfather. He was highly valued and secure in his position. You can parlay this type of role in a similar manner. Let the hiring manager know you are there to support her/him. Their success is your success. This might not be how you’ve defined yourself in the past, but it could be the ticket to your future.
- Be Prepared to Manage A Smaller (Or No) Team – Many experienced execs have managed teams of various sizes. Sometimes this might have been a very large team and included people who would take care of projects like building PowerPoint presentations and crunching numbers in Excel. The current (and likely) future reality is most companies are running extremely lean and overhead costs are more scrutinized than ever. Going forward, you may have direct ownership of tasks that historically would have been the purview of others. Alternately…
- Upskill Your Hard Skills, Especially Tech – Age bias towards mature job seekers often comes in the form of perceived lack of comfort with technology. This is the polar opposite of younger team members who are digital natives. BE PREPARED. Ensure you have practical, functional skills necessary for the position. It does not mean you have to re-invent yourself into a tech guru. Rather, demonstrate you (1) keep up with industry-specific software, (2) understand the role social media plays for your company (as well as the competition) and most importantly, (3) ensure you have the critical computer skills to get the job done. This means having a solid grasp on processes that have been automated since you were last working in this space.
While the corporate world has changed, it has not changed that much. At a baseline level, most companies on the Forbes Global 2000 likely still use Microsoft Office. That means you want to be comfortable with Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint.
You likely know how to use Word and Outlook. Do you know Excel and PPT or are you still “faking it until you make it?” At a minimum, you should be able to:
- Enter data into a spreadsheet
- Use and modify basic formulas
- Create simple tables and charts
- Understand what a pivot table does
- Create and delete PPT slides
- Modify slides to fit your specific objectives.
- Work with data to create simple tables and charts
- Manage a deck to suit your presentation style (animations, timing, etc.).
This is not intended as a complete list. There are many other elements of Excel and PPT that will enhance your productivity. However, this starting point should give you something to consider and (if needed) seek out training like what is offered by My Software Tutor. At the end of the day, the more complete your skills package is, the greater likelihood you will reach your career objectives.