by Tracy Wasserman, Head Editor, INALJ Florida
You Know You’re Special: on proving it on it on a resume or in an interview whatever your age may be
Feeling inundated with countless articles and online advice from career counseling centers and other job-hunting gurus about how to write, improve, re-write, update, modify, correct and submit resumes, and behave, sit, talk and re-act in interviews?
To me, it’s like the online health/ailment advice you can find everywhere on the web, and since your symptoms could be related to a variety of ailments from an allergy to a major disease, the anxiety of information overload is just not worth it. Sure, there is good advice out there, and you can have a terrific looking resume, but at some point, you only know what’s going to work to get the job when you get to the interview.
My husband spent over a year searching for a new job when he was let go from his company after 10 years as a technical publications manager, when a major search engine bought the company and starting re-vamping it. The main factor working against him finding a new job, it seemed, was his age (he’s 54). He could read and follow all kinds of job-hunting advice articles, but he couldn’t do younger. He did everything right, had an awesome resume that generated interest and interviews, but when he got to the interviews, he found himself most times being questioned by a youngster half his age, and judging by the perceived age of the others he saw there, he would have been a dinosaur and the definite old man out.
He didn’t get any of those jobs, even though he seemed a perfect fit in terms of qualifications and experience. Although overt age discrimination in the workplace is a thing of the past, it is a factor when considering the best “fit” for a position. My husband was not asked his age in the interview, of course, and he looks younger than his years, but the years of experience reflected on his resume was one factor that gave him away (simple math on the part of the prospective employer will reveal a potential employment candidate’s approximate age).
Another factor to consider is a perceived skill may be in some minds a deficit. My husband prided himself on being what he called a “laid back” manager at his company, always getting the work done on schedule without panic and undue stress. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of using his “laid back” manager asset when asked about what he considered his best strength, in an interview at a company that thrives on stress and everyone running around like crazy people. He’s pretty certain that faux pas cost him that job, even though at the time he thought the company in question would consider a calmer person good for the advertised position. He was wrong, and mis-read the signals.
The signals are the key. Every interview will be different, and it might take many interviews before you figure out how to read signals. You cannot have a set speech. What one interviewer may welcome, another one may not. Is it obvious to you that the company could make some changes to run better? Maybe, but maybe they don’t want to hear it from you in an interview, and will consider a criticism a sign that you cannot work well with others.
My husband finally found a job at an up-and-coming regional airline, where the VP who hired him is in his 60’s, and has been working for the company himself for less than a year. The two of them hit it off right away. The VP was willing to take the chance that a technical publications manager in the cell phone industry could manage technical publications in the airline industry, because they got along so well in the interview.
Proving your worth once you get the job is the next hurdle, but you know you can do it, because you’re special.