Mature job-seekers are well aware of the fact that they face a number of unflattering stereotypes due to their age alone. However, by keeping one simple phrase in mind, you absolutely can overcome a number of negative preconceptions younger employers may be holding against you. In fact, you'll be able to market yourself, your skills and experience from a position of strength.
This power-packed phrase is: Ongoing Professional Development. Here are three ways you'll want to incorporate these three critical words in your job search campaign.
Give yourself the competitive edge. The most effective way to distinguish yourself as the candidate of choice is to (1) possess the necessary skills and (2) provide added value by virtue of the extras you bring as a uniquely qualified individual. By virtue of your age and experience, you'll want to highlight the added value of your well-honed problem solving skills, your demonstrated ability to handle and resolve crises, and your highly developed people skills. But these sought-after attributes will do you little good if you don't have the technical skills for the job.
Therefore ensure that you provide yourself with the necessary Ongoing Professional Development and get the technical training you'll need to not only compete, but also to best the competition. There are now several low-fee and free websites that will supply you with these necessary skills. Check them out and make sure to give yourself that all-important competitive edge.
- Lynda.com For $25 a month, you'll get unlimited access to over 2000 (mainly technical and creative) video tutorials
- GCFlearnfree.org Boasts more than 750 free lessons in technology, math, ESL and more
- Microsoft Office Training Learn the MS Office Suite for free
- OpenCulture.com Links to scores of free, high quality training videos for both cultural and educational subjects
Make your resume stand out. Employers want to talk with applicants who value keeping their skills updated and current; so let them know this is true for you by clearly stating this fact on your resume. Create a separate section under your formal education and call it: Ongoing Professional Development. Then list classes and online training you've taken as well as any certificates you've received. Using this particular phrase as a heading on your resume will draw positive attention because "ongoing" suggests a desire for lifelong learning--something employers like--and "professional development" says it all.
Toot your technical horn! Prepare several examples that speak to your commitment to Ongoing Professional Development--especially when it applies to your technical skills. You'll want to have these examples so well practiced that they easily come to mind and you can refer to them during networking opportunities and, most notably, while you're at a job interview. Make certain to stress how your skills resulted in improved performance, saved time and/or money, and made a positive impact on your organization's bottom line.
Create examples that show how:
- You're a quick study, thrive on learning new things and use your skills to make a difference
- You were complemented by your boss/coworkers for the outcomes you've achieved
- You mentored/trained coworkers and helped them update their technical skills so that the department ran more efficiently
In keeping the phrase, Ongoing Professional Development as the cornerstone of your job search campaign, you should not only overcome many of the negative stereotypes associated with age, you will set yourself up for success. So come from a position of strength and present yourself with confidence. By highlighting your updated technical skills augmented with substantial experience, you just might turn your age into an advantage and land your next position before you know it!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in February 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!