Although fifty isn’t over the hill, age can be a factor when you’re competing against a younger (and less expensive) pool of candidates.
Older and more seasoned executives often face an uphill struggle when it comes to competing against younger and less experienced job applicants.
Although no one doubts that older execs can still do the job, over-fifty execs are often associated with baggage – inflexible management styles, higher salary requirements and other factors that make them less attractive than younger workers.
Tucker Mays and Bob Sloane, principals of OptiMarket LLC, an executive job-search coaching firm, understand the challenges older candidates face in today’s job market. As co-authors of the book, “Fired at 50: How to Overcome the Greatest Executive Job Search Challenge”, they offer several tips to help 50+ job seekers use age as an asset.
- Problem-Solving Skills. Since they have more experience, older workers almost always solve problems more quickly and more accurately than younger employees. In today’s business climate, time really is money, so it pays to emphasize examples when you applied your critical thinking skills to solve an urgent business problem in record time.
- Management Capabilities. Managing people assets is a critical business skill – but it’s one that younger workers have rarely mastered. Be prepared to discuss concrete examples of instances in which you helped people you supervised achieve their full career potential.
- Decision-Making. Prospective employers love to hear candidates discuss the outcomes of important decisions they have made. On the whole, older workers have more experience when it comes to exercising decision-making skills in a business context, so plan on providing examples of key decisions you’ve made at various points in your career.
- Executive Leadership. Executives over the age of fifty have had more time to accumulate executive leadership credentials than younger job applicants. Don’t be shy when it comes to talking about projects you have initiated, teams you have led, new directions you have forged and other practical leadership examples.
Mays and Sloane emphasize that older job seekers need to realize that the job search strategies that worked when they were in their thirties and forties are no longer effective. In many cases, older workers now find it easier to land jobs at smaller firms rather than large corporations.