If you're a job-seeker on the far side of 50, you've undoubtedly been bombarded with messages telling you your age is a major deterrent to your chances of finding work. Job search gurus love repeating their mantra that it's critical for you to play down the fact you've passed the half-century mark -- otherwise you won't have even a prayer of landing a job. They caution candidates to omit any signs of age from their resume and, as much as possible, from their demeanor and appearance.
But what do these messages do to your sense of self-esteem? Constantly being told your age is a giant turn-off to most employers can't help you feel good about yourself. Moreover, having confidence in what you bring -- your skills, experience, and your added value as a unique individual of talent and energy -- is the cornerstone to mounting a successful job search campaign. If you can't believe in your own merit as a viable and attractive candidate, how can you possibly convince an employer you'd be a worthwhile addition to their team?
Therefore, why not choose to focus on the advice that supports you and your efforts, and ignore the rest of the discouraging chatter? Why not concentrate on all of the advantages age brings and present yourself as a winning candidate of maturity? There are plenty of ways you have it all over your younger counterparts -- so why not conduct your search from a position of strength and confidence in all you have to offer?
Here are just a few of the attributes of maturity that will help you start thinking of ways your age is to your advantage:
- You have market knowledge and a well-honed skill set gained over years of experience.
- You have an extensive network of clients, customers, coworkers, colleagues, and friends -- and because many people in your network are older, they're more likely to have connections with senior-level contacts.
- You are liable to be more flexible and can present yourself as a full- or part-time employee, or as a consultant.
- You are not necessarily assertively climbing the corporate ladder, so you won't pose a threat to the more aggressive up-and-comers.
- You have the knowledge and ability to mentor younger workers and teach them the valuable techniques and tools that translate into ongoing success for the organization.
- You have life skills gained over years of experience dealing with people. You can get along with others, know how to manage your emotions at work, and you realize the importance of being a contributing team member.
- You have a mature work ethic. You understand the value of being responsible, showing up on time and following through to complete assigned tasks.
- You have the experience and knowledge to handle most any situation that arises because you've handled just these types of encounters many times before. All you need to do is compile a list of winning examples and have them on the ready to illustrate your skills and accomplishments.
Your age has gifted you with several additional positive attributes -- too many to mention in this article. For now, consider the findings of a recent survey reported by CBS. More than a quarter of the women surveyed reported that they'd trade in IQ points for a larger chest. (It goes without saying these women were not on the far side of 50!)
So, if you were an employer, which segment of the population would you want on your team?
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 helps you turn your age into an advantage. It's packed with information providing mature applicants with the tools to successfully navigate the modern job market and gain the edge over the competition. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!