As the unemployment rate falls, Americans are gaining confidence about their employment prospects again. And the good news for Baby Boomers is that this isn’t just a young kids’ game.
“Don’t view your age or your experience as a liability. It’s a benefit to companies to have a multi-generational workforce,” says Oriana Vogel, vice president of global talent acquisition at American Express. “One of our goals… is to hire employees that can provide a variety of different perspectives and experiences.” Age doesn’t come into consideration when it comes down to hiring the best people, she says.
“In fact, if you have more experience and skills, you can offer something different from some other candidates,” says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst for Glassdoor.com.
Career experts say there are some steps job-seekers over the age of 50 can take to put their best foot forward.
Show that you’re tech-fluent. Hiring managers want to make sure you’re as comfortable around today’s technology as the generation that practically grew up with smartphones in their hands. You can communicate this early on via your LinkedIn profile, says the site’s career expert Catherine Fisher. “Upload… photos and videos, presentations, and more to the summary and experience sections of your profile,” she says. And when you ask colleagues, clients and so on for LinkedIn recommendations, “Ask them to highlight concrete examples that reinforce your cutting edge skill set.”
Focus on skills, not years. Your resume should communicate what you’ve accomplished in your career without drawing attention to when. “Include your job and career highlights at your most recent employer at the top, followed by success highlights and metrics at employers over the past ten years,” Dobroski says. You should still include a chronological employment listing, but it’s OK to put it further down the page. “If you have amazing, relevant and recent experience near the top of your resume, where hiring managers look first, that’s what matters most,” he says.
Don’t be afraid of photos. Don’t take or leave off a photo on LinkedIn because you’re worried hiring managers will pause if they see some gray in your hair. Fisher says a profile with a photo is 14 times more likely to be viewed than one without a picture. “The key is to have your photo convey who you are as a professional,” she says. “You want hiring mangers to be able to view you working at their company.” In other words, no snapshots of you with the kids (or grandkids).
Dress smartly. You know that your professional wardrobe shouldn’t be dated, but if you’re not sure if, say, a suit would be overkill, Google Images can help you out. “We are not judging anyone based on what they wear,” Vogel says. It is to your advantage to be comfortable with how you look in an interview, though, whatever that might entail. “If a candidate doesn’t know what to wear to an interview and because ‘corporate attire’ runs the gamut these days… look for images of the company’s offices and check out what they wear,” she suggests.
Be specific and ask questions. “Use examples of how [you] handled challenges rather than just saying ‘I have done that,'” says Blake Nations, CEO of Over50JobBoard.com. And ask a lot of questions about the job. “By asking questions that are pertinent you can show you have experience in a subtle way,” Nations says. “You can show you have an understanding of how the flow of a work environment functions. This is something younger people may not understand as well.”
Address your age. If you get into an interview and start picking up on a feeling that your age might be a stumbling block, Jobcase.com CEO Fred Goff says it’s better to take the plunge and raise the issue yourself. “[Say] something like, ‘I am really excited about this opportunity but clearly I notice that I have more experience than your average hire… Do you think that is an issue?’” Goff says this not only brings the discussion into the open, but it communicates to the interviewer that you’re not afraid of confronting challenging topics head-on. “Good people will realize that just the fact you are addressing the elephant in the room suggests it will be just fine working with you,” Goff says.