If you’re a boomer or senior going back to work, changing jobs, or seeking part time work to supplement your retirement income, you may have a hard road ahead of you. While there are savvy recruiters who will realize that your experience and your work ethic make you an attractive candidate many will have some pre-conceived notions about you, the “old person,” as a prospective employee.
Hiring managers might well think:
- Your skills are out of date – not digital or technical enough
- You will learn too slowly
- You are over-qualified so will want more money and then won’t stay long
- You will have more insurance claims, and be out sick more often
You can dispel all of these issues with your cleverly-worded cover letter, and, should you get that interview, with the answers you provide and even the questions you ask, in the interview itself.
Well before you start your job hunt, no matter what the technical or digital tasks the job involves, you must socially network and you must include those contacts in your resume header. Having a Facebook page that includes conversation and profile information about your smart phone, your laptop, your blog, the sites you visit or Webinars you attended that taught you x, y and z, and the active sports in which you partake, get the message out that you are healthy, active, keep in shape, and keep up with the latest tools, gadgets and news. Find your passion and create a blog and a Twitter profile around it. It doesn’t matter if it’s gardening or golf or economic development in Cave Creek. It will show that you are digitally savvy, smart, articulate, self-directed, and well-rounded. Someone who can create her or his own blog is someone who can learn a new skill.
You MUST have a LinkedIn profile. Even if you are not currently working, create a profile in which you bring attention either to your past career (if you want that to be your new career as well) or to the field in which you now want to work. A laid-off newspaper reporter, for example, who would like to write part time for a website, might call himself a Media Professional or Content Writer. A former math teacher who now would like to work from home for a virtual call center might call herself a Communication Specialist. Be creative – tie your former job life to your current aspirations as well as you can, and then categorize yourself so that those who are in the field in which you want to work will find you. Join groups affiliated with your desired career, and take part in discussions. Seek out members of the group by asking them to join your network and sending them a message. Rather than asking, “Will you hire me, or do you have an opening?” Ask her or him, “I see you’re a veteran in this field. After x number of years as y I decided to convert those well-honed Z skills to my passion (or new-found interest in or some such) X industry. I would welcome your ideas on resources – sites, blogs, publications – that would help me learn more about the industry and its opportunities.” People love to be asked for their advice, and at least 80 percent of the time you WILL get an informative response. You now have helpful advice you should follow and an important contact in the industry. And, who knows, she or he just might have an opening, or know someone who does.
I’ll be talking a lot more in subsequent posts about using LinkedIn effectively, and how to create a blog and grow its audience. I’ll also talk about Twitter and why it’s important.
But, regarding the issue of over-qualification, here’s what I learned. Any smart salesperson will tell you that the biggest hurdle to get past is not answering the objection, but knowing what the objection is. You must get that recruiter to discuss the objection that you know is out there but she or he cannot or will not address – you are over-qualified and you’ll want too much money and / or you won’t stay long. So, again as would that salesperson, the smart thing here is to bring up the issue yourself and then dispel the objection. You might say, “I realize that you might think me over-qualified and have concerns about my expecting too much money, or not sticking around. If I were in your place, I’d have the same worries. But here’s why I’m happy to be here for the long haul, and in a position that is subordinate to my last, and pays less than what I’ve done before.” Then tell that recruiter why.
About 18 months ago I took a part time call center position to supplement my self-employment income. A veteran call center and sales manager, I was very much over-qualified for the job. I said much the same thing to the interviewer: You must wonder why I want this job and if I’ll stay. Then I added, “After many years of 80-hour work weeks and taking my work and office worries home with me, I now happily work from home for myself. But it’s lonely, and I need additional income for the extended future, to grow my retirement funds. What I seek is an environment where I can work with others, do the best job I can, but then leave the job behind when I leave the office. I believe that your firm and your job fits that bill.” The interviewer was nodding the entire time I was saying this. He got it. And I got the job.