Who would have thought that being 45 years old or better would classify you as an older worker? It’s an common issue many mature workers will experience today because employers seem to take age as a hiring factor into consideration. Job applicants older than a certain age often have to overcome barriers they didn’t face when they were younger.
Many older job seekers get discouraged by this situation. However, there are strategies you could incorporate in your interviews to turn your disadvantage into advantage. The secret to win at a job interview is to present yourself as an optimal combination of what you are and what the employer is looking for: an energetic, lifetime learner who knows the industry well, keeps up with technology and can communicate effectively with colleagues of all ages. Here’s how to prepare:
Consider your experience an asset.
Think about it, you have years or decades of precious experience that younger workers don’t have, which brings you to a higher standpoint. One way to capitalize on this asset is to bring a portfolio of relevant projects to your interview and make it a interactive show-and-tell experience for both you and the interviewer. Also be prepared to discuss some of the problems and challenges which the company might face in their projects and any possible solutions that you envision.
During the interview, give as much detail as possible about your past experience to paint a full picture of your abilities. Present your skill sets that are inline with the requirements for the job. Be sure to give specific examples of any similar work you’ve done in the past, the processes you’ve implemented, and the projects you’ve worked on. Showcase Your successes, and demonstrate how you overcame obstacles in your past work experience as well. But be careful, you do not want to age your experiences by giving specific dates for jobs you’ve done, especially when that job is from 20 years ago. Also, you definitely don’t need to start from the beginning of your career; only talk about experiences that are relative to the job you are applying for.
Do your research
Prepare to explain why you want to work for this organization. Interviewers are often intrigued to see what attracts potential candidates to their company. Check out the company’s website, study any current projects or campaigns they’re working on, and initiate conversations with some intelligent questions about the position or observations about the firm. You can even talk about how this company (or any projects they’re pursuing) has inspired you or your family and friends, how this industry inspires you and how you’ve developed a passion in it.
It is very important to conduct a thorough research on the company before attending a interview. There are a large number of networks such Google, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed where you could gather as much information as possible about the prospective employer, its leadership team and the organization culture. Pre-interview research is a chance for you to learn about the specific challenges of the role you’ll be performing, and how your skills and experiences can help the organization master the challenges in their industry.
Show your ability with technologies
Oddly but understandably, older workers are often stereotyped as “resistant to change” or “unable to use digital technology”. During the interview, tell the interviewers about any creative ideas you produced that improved your previous employer’s productivity on certain projects or made the company more efficient. If possible, give an example of a project where you handled in a way that may not be perceived as the standard process for handling it, but was more effective than usual. If you are actively bettering yourself by learning about new technologies in this digital world, this is a perfect time to talk about the computer class you are attending, or the Microsoft Office workshops you are undertaking, or other ways you have kept your skills up to date throughout your career.
Most jobs have developed a technological profile in this digital age. Employers are looking for candidates with the latest skills, but they may fear that older workers are not able to keep up with technology trends as well as younger workers. Make sure you know what kind of technologies are most valued or commonly used in your target industry, take steps to master it and be ready to share how you have applied this technology to your work.
Overqualified? Older than the management? Address those issues.
If you are downshifting your career, as many older workers do, employers may view you as being overqualified for the job you’re applying for. You can outplay this conservative perception by clearly describing your enthusiasm for the specific duties associated with the job you’re applying for. It will help if you can reference how satisfying it was for you to carry out similar functions in your past experiences.
On the other hand, although equipped with more experience, you might need to report to a manager who’s younger than you. Some employers have concerns about the willingness of older workers to take direction from younger supervisors. As a mature worker, you need to show your willingness to work for a younger manager. When asked about your ideal supervisor or management, reassure interviewers by sharing examples of how you have thrived under the direction of younger managers.
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