I hit the age of 40 next week. I see hitting the milestone of four decades on this earth as an accomplishment, but I know that I’ll be in reflective mood, pondering like many if I’ve achieved enough in my career in those 350,000+ hours of being on this earth.
And if you are 40 plus, you may find that you are struggling to get back into work. If you suspect that your age might have something to do with it, you may be right!
Having made it to the age of 40, you will no doubt have bags of life experience and a load of professional experience with 20 odd years in a myriad of jobs.
Unfortunately, as an older job seeker, you need to be aware of the mindset you will encounter in interviews and be prepared to adapt and ask questions accordingly. I’ve put together 4 key tips to overcoming some of the potential barriers you may face when trying to get back into work after 40:
Back into Work – 1. Older People Are Just Stuck In Their Ways
There is misapprehension amongst employers that the older somebody gets, the more resistant to change they become.
Whilst there may some quadragenarians that do exhibit this characteristic, the reality is that older employees are actually better at coping with change as they have experience in adapting to changing circumstances in the workplace.
And this is where you can use your CV to provide examples of where you have adapted to change to achieve goals. When it comes to the interview, you should then be armed with details of these examples to wow the recruiter and show that not everyone over forty is stuck in their ways.
Back into Work – 2. You are overqualified for the position
Ever heard this one? I tried to take a step back a few years back after finding it a bit of a struggle to get back into marketing management after a redundancy. The job I applied for was a slightly more junior role and despite a really good interview, I got the distinct feeling that the interviewer felt threatened by my experience and I sensed I had no chance getting the position.
And usually employers will trot out this excuse if they can’t think of a viable reason as to why they wouldn’t employ someone after their 40th birthday, but perhaps there is some logic behind the excuse.
The company I went to see were worried, and probably rightly, that I was only using them as a stop-gap and that I’d be off as soon as I got a better offer.
It is always difficult to apply for positions that you may overqualified for. The only solution is to change your CV so that it is only relevant for the job you are applying for and you may have to strip out some of your key achievements, however painful that may be.
And at the interview itself, you need to make it clear that you are not just looking for something short term and are committed to this opportunity, but after my experiences, it can sometimes be a nigh on impossible task taking that step back.
Back into Work – 3. Your CV has turned into War & Peace
With a couple of decade’s worth of career history behind you, the temptation is to have your CV run into page after page of detail.
But you are not doing yourself any favours if your CV runs longer than 3 pages. For example, would any potential recruiter really care that I built a fantastic display in Our Price in 1996 to launch the new Prodigy album?
Focus your CV on what you can do for potential employers moving forward rather than the less relevant achievements in the past.
Back into Work – 4. Emphasise why your age is an advantage
Ensure that both in your CV and in the interview that you hammer home how your age would be an advantage to any potential employer. For instance, if your children are now adults themselves, you will be able to put in longer hours than those who have family commitments.
You will also have picked up skills and knowledge over your career that younger candidates will find difficult to compete with.
Back into Work: Summary
Hopefully employers will realise the advantages of recruiting experienced, older members of staff. Young bucks may be bright eyed and bushy tailed, but compared to those of us who have some years on the clock, they simply don’t have the experience to get the job done!
If you need any further help finding that next big move, or if you are looking to recruit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here, or you can join the LinkedIn Response Knowledge Network here.
Otherwise feel free to get in touch with me personally, via Twitter or LinkedIn using the links below.