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Overage, Overqualified and Unemployed?
I find myself in the ridiculous place of having too much knowledge and experience for some jobs in the workplace. Not only that but I'm apparently "TOO OLD"... employers aren't saying it but after a frustrated work search I have come to the conclusion that being overage and overqualified are definitely NOT working in my favor here. After 2 years of applying for various positions, going to various interviews I have decided that IT'S TIME TO FIGHT BACK!
What was once considered "wisdom and knowledge" can now be a liability in the workforce as competition become fierce and jobs are few. Although I don't consider myself over the hill and consider my experience as a positive, I've just go this itchy little feeling that my age and skill set are actually hurting me more than helping me. After a long and stressful night wrestling with my latest "thank-you but we feel you are not the right fit for the position" letdown...I have decided to put the ball back in my court, and yours, by offering up some advice for us "elderly" job seekers.
Tips for older job hunters
After owing my own business for over 20 years, I have developed a keen sense of confidence. A confidence that I am afraid may be intimidating some of my interviewers, often 20 something hipsters who look like they just graduated from college. The first few times that I was interviewed by these younger people, I felt a profound sense of weirdness. After all, the tables had been turned. Years earlier it was me interviewing them for positions within our company (how's that for a role reversal, huh?)
First bit of advice for you if you are like me and preparing to interview
- Prepare yourself when you interview that the person interviewing you may resemble a younger version of your son or daughter (even quite possibly your grandchildren) It's becoming obvious that many younger people are holding the reins in management. If this happens to you, don't be surprised or put off...it's just the way that it is. Be pleasant and kind and don't come off as "all knowing". This young person might hold the key to you being hired or not. Be cool and collected but don't come off as condescending.
- Do not date yourself on your resume. Be careful what dates you put down for school and jobs. Dates on your resume may reflect your age and possibly be a strike against you (of course interviewers won't tell you this but that's the sad fact) Get yourself that interview by getting your foot in the door, then let your experience speak for itself. Employees are not supposed to discriminate based on age (but come on now, we know they sometimes do)
- Dress professional and hip for your interview. On the last big job interview I went on, I wore a trendy hip suit that made me look younger than I am (at least that's the feedback I got from my friends and family)
- You might even want to break out the hair die to give you a younger look (yeah I know you hate having to resort to these tactics - but looking a little younger certainly doesn't hurt your chances) It will give you a little lift and if you are really that married to your grey hair well then hey... stick with it.
- Think twice about putting down the fact that you owned a small business (if you did) I've been told by some people that owning a business may put you on the undesirable list. Prospective employers may feel that you have worked "independently for too long" and "may have trouble taking direction" (that's my take on it, anyway) I now put on my resume that I was the "manager" of our small business.
- I have found that many jobs that I would have been a good fit for usually ask for some technical software experience that I do not have. If you are well qualified and find that not knowing certain programs are holding you back from that dream job, it would probably be a good idea to go back to school and take some classes in things that those employers are looking for (a good example would be knowing Microsoft Word, I have even seen some driving jobs that require the driver to know these basic office programs)
My final thoughts as an "older" job seeker
And BTW, I think I may have blown my last job interview by nodding coolly when being asked questions at my interview (the questions were easy for me, and in retrospect the little nod I made may have been taken the wrong way - I was nodding good, I have a "great" answer but now I realize I should have kept that little nod to myself)
It's good to come across confident but not overly confident. I now wait for the interviewers to ask me the next question without offering too much information (It's a fine line coming off as prepared and confident as opposed to cocky and over-sure of ones self)