With my over 3 decades of experience spread over sales, recruitment and job search coaching, I have observed that there is one major and common hurdle which job seekers over 50 years of age face in receiving interview calls. It is the ‘mindset’ of most hiring managers – “Candidates above 50 have multiple limitations and hence younger professionals are a preferred hire”. Because it is a perception, it requires a well thought out strategy to overcome this challenge if one wants to receive interview calls. You would agree that there is no limitation in terms of potential when you are above 50. So then where is the limitation? It is with the job search mode as ninety per cent of candidates uses traditional approaches.
These Unique Steps Job Seekers Can Take to Attract Interview Calls
Let me share 13 unique steps that can help you achieve your goal.
Step 1] Change your own mindset:
Just to remind you of Mark Twain’s quote “ Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” So don’t start the job search process with the thought that you are old. There is n number of examples of people making a great success in their careers after they crossed 50. Harland Sanders, founder of KFC was in his late fifties when he founded KFC. Roget Invented the Thesaurus at Age 73 and the list can go on. The most crucial step is to constantly work towards changing your own mindset that you are old. Easier said than done, but it certainly is possible for every individual to focus on his/her unique strengths, the richness of experience and absorb them mentally and shift the thinking towards the beauty of unlimited possibilities that exist.
Step 2] Take up freelance consulting assignments:
While you are employed in the job or even if you are currently jobless, it is essential to start engaging yourself with consulting assignments and become a self-employed professional. Print out a small quality of visiting cards (does not cost more than Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 for 100 cards) to give a professional touch to your service. Most senior professionals feel that it is difficult to procure assignments but small and mid-sized growing companies would welcome your experience, inputs and advice on different areas like how to implement systems, marketing, sales, business development and so on. You may choose to do it over the weekends. Do not benchmark your earning at the start of your assignment because importantly you would be profiling yourself as an independent consultant which pays rich dividends as time goes by. Also, companies generally prefer to hire candidates who are currently employed and being self-employed is perceived positively. So you start scoring slightly better on this front.
Step 3] Don’t forget to network with alumni and ex-employees:
Your alumni would have online groups or if not, they will be available to reconnect on the LinkedIn platform. Improve your network because they may be working with companies who would be potential employers for you to try. These are good sources for you to ask for recommendations and references.
Step 4] Avoid the mental trap of not sharpening the saw:
Don’t allow yourself to be perceived as outdated. Keep reinventing yourself constantly. As the good old saying goes, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got“ – Albert Einstein. Keep learning and evolving by gaining a cross section of experience within your domain and keep upgrading your skills. You can demonstrate these traits with examples of success while presenting your candidature.
Step 5] Are you adaptable?:
In today’s day and age, things change dramatically and the pace at which things are changing, you need to prove that you have always adapted to different work situations. This is an important trait where the younger professionals score better in this area. Take the extra effort to document success stories of your adaptability which can be used while communicating with potential hiring managers.
Step 6] Avoid asking potential employers directly for a job:
It is important that you start by building a basic value-based relationship with potential employers before you ask them for a job. Your research on the company, the detailed homework is done on the requirement on the job, finding a match between your exceptional and rich experience are inputted you may use to showcase your interest level and value that you get to the table.
Step 7] Start Blogging:
Start a blog of your own. Sharing your experiences of management over the years maybe once a month and 12 times a year will be helpful to many. The less experienced professionals can learn from your success stories.
Step 8] Work closely with a Recruitment Agency:
Without assuming that a recruitment agency will present your candidature because you have shared your Resume, do as much homework as you would do with the employer companies. Study the specific clients’ needs handled by the recruitment agency and then send customised applications and follow up with the recruiter giving them clear reasons for your fitment. Only then will you stand out as a candidate and the recruiter will be motivated to present your case.
Step 9] Develop a customised Cover letter in an unconventional format:
A general cover letter introducing yourself will have no impact. Remember with the age perception to be handled, your every approach needs to make you stand out. And a cover letter is necessary to induce the hiring manager to click and open your Resume. Focus on the following in the letter:
A] Emphasise on the richness of your years of experience and pick up one or two areas of the pain points in the job which you have successfully handled with improved results over the years.
B] Focus on the years of repeated success rate on various areas because younger candidates with lesser experience will not have the depth of experience in the domain like you do.
C] Your experience, wisdom and maturity in handling teams with man management ability should be included prominently. It will take years for younger candidates to reach the experience level of handling team situations of varied nature like size and scale, gender, seniority, geographic locations and so on.
D] Briefly showcase your fitness levels by adding a point on your high energy levels – both mentally and physically.
Step 10] Resume should be customised and within 2 pages:
A general Resume which runs into 3 or more pages will reduce the chances of attracting the attention of the hiring managers or recruitment agencies. Customising your Resume with suitable keywords for each job application is a must.
Step 11] Updating your Resume on job portals:
For senior job seekers, job portal may not be the primary tool but it is an important route to be visible. But just the act of uploading your Resume may not be as effective. It is essential to update it on a weekly basis with the right keywords.
Step 12] Develop a strong LinkedIn profile:
In today’s day and age wherein hiring managers as well as recruitment consultants are sourcing senior candidates through LinkedIn, it is a big loss for you if you do not have a powerful and professionally written LinkedIn profile. There are experts who write it because they have the knack of using suitable online keywords and building your profile with a powerful vocabulary.
Step 13] Maintaining good fitness levels:
Needless to mention, you need to take care of your fitness levels by eating right and exercising and keeping a positive mindset.
Follow the above 13 steps and you will be well on your way to winning over the mindset of the hiring manager and the number of relevant interview calls you to receive will improve.