OK, so you’re not a ‘Spring Chicken’: Some Points for Attention.
I frequently meet clients who express their concern about their age. Am I or will I be ruled out at the interview the minute I walk in the door? I once overheard a wise (my view) HR manager say, “tell me what you can do, not how old you are”. If you think about that, there’s a clear message in that statement. Mature means different things to different people. The salient point here is that the fact you got called to an interview would indicate that there was material on your C.V. that prompted the invitation. They clearly wanted to hear more about topics you addressed on your application; not your age.
That said, with the vast amount of jobs currently available in the marketplace, there is also a lot of great opportunities for younger people. Add to that the ageing part of the population who are fit and well but hitting retirement age or taking the full pension opportunity to retire and then, depending on their expertise, pick up contracts or part-time work that pays a good daily rate. Don’t forget those school leavers, graduates and a number of people through redundancy all add up to a considerable amount. So no matter what age you are the pressure is on, and you are not alone.
Like a pyramid, as you go upwards through the ranks to more senior roles, space gets smaller, the opportunities are less, but the competition is enormous. As you go up the employment ladder, employer’s expectations broaden and become more demanding. The more senior you are, the more experience and a deep understanding of business and management abilities with a history of success will be your key selling points.
With experience comes age or with age comes knowledge, so if you’re in this category, this is going to be the basis of your presentation and supported by your competence in running a department, sector or organisation.
OK, so you’re not a ‘Spring Chicken’ but don’t let age rattle you. You will be seen to be as young as you present yourself. There are horses for courses!
If you believe that you are getting close to an age barrier, then I would suggest you are not for the job. If you are going to be a good candidate, then you must be confident that you can be as, or even more, successful than any other applicant as is the case for any applicant for any job vacancy.
There are a few points you need to review and bear in mind before you approach the market.
Many omit to put dates on their education whether it is School or College. Nothing screams ‘I’m an oldie’ louder than when you remove any reference to years, from-to, on your C.V. A two-second calculation will allow anyone to take a reasonably accurate guess at your age if they want to. You can’t hide it, and you are only drawing attention to the fact by omitting to include it.
If you are in the upper age bracket, you should show, where possible your progress through a company and not just your current or last job title. Show the progress, show the improvement, show the promotions and demonstrate your successes as you progress within the company. You would not have got promotions if you weren’t good at what you do.
Make sure you highlight achievements and not just write a list of your responsibilities. You may have been responsible for something, but were you good at it?
State your achievements and put a measure on them regarding budget size, savings made (in money terms) or time saved through something clever you have done.
- Introduced a new software maintenance programme, reducing machine downtime saving approximately €2,500 per month and increasing productivity by 15%
- Negotiated and secured the contract with the ABC Corporation valued in excess of €6m per annum.
State your achievement and then put size on it. You got an order worth X. You reduce downtime by 20%. You reduced headcount by 10%. You increased sales by 30%. Stating a value gives size to the perceived achievement of the statement.
- Use bullet points and lean on your areas of expertise in short hyphenated statements. Avoid long blocks of text.
Important: Even if you have many years of experience, you still must keep your C.V to two pages, maximum. If you are reasonably senior, then try a one page C.V which is even better. They are hard to do but when done well they are very effective.
Your Cover Letter:
- Do not re-write your C.V. Short and snappy, three paragraphs.
- Introduce yourself, the job reference if there is one, your job title and your interest in the job.
- A one or two comments about your experience and skills relevant to the post.
- Thank you, attach your C.V and finish with, I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. No more.
This is the part where a lot of candidates fall down.
- Turn off your mobile phone before entering the building. The world won’t stop turning.
- Your appearance is most important, so you have to have regard for it. Unfortunately, some people take the view ‘this is me, and I’m not pretending to be anything else’. This attitude won’t work.
- You have to be clean tidy and groomed, well groomed, clothes spruce and clean
- Gentlemen, as the years go by facial hair appears everywhere; Deal with it.
- Try not to look your age, and most of all don’t act your age. At interview stand up straight, walk in the door and shake hands with good eye contact and greet your interviewer by name and do not start by complaining about the traffic or complaining about anything at all.
- Do not refer to IT, Internet, LinkedIn, email as kids stuff. If you think it is you are out of date. If it bewilders you, talk to your Son or Daughter and get a basic understanding, don’t belittle it.
- Dress in a reasonably fashionable way. Be up-to-date.
- You may be older and wiser than the interviewer so don’t challenge them on any point where you think differently. They are the interviewer, not you.
- Talk positively and give examples of successes you have had in recent jobs or tasks.
- If you wear glasses, wear them and don’t keep putting them on and off.
- Do not compare any product, thing or person to the way it was 20 years ago.
- Have prepared a view of how the company may perform into the future and if you have any good ideas, tell them.
- And most of all; do not say to your interviewer, ‘I think I know your Dad from my school days.’
Above all know your C.V like you know your name and address; every line of it and at your meeting, from time to time smile. It makes your whole demeanor so much more pleasant.
Top Tips. PCC provides professionally delivered, supportive and most importantly, successful career change and redeployment assistance to private clients from all sectors of Industry. Inquiries are welcome and treated with confidence.
Tel: 086-3017207 & 01-2819056, Email: [email protected] Web: www.jobdoctor.ie
Prepared and edited by Andrew Carroll, Journalism MA in DIT.