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Think 40 Means You’re Finished? Not A Chance

Job search tips for people over 40

over fortyIn a cutthroat world of layoffs, downsizing and unemployment, it’s important for job seekers over 40 to stay one step ahead of the game. Though jobseekers over the age of 40 often face a different set of challenges than their younger counterparts, they also bring a lot to the table.

The Biggest Challenges for Job Seekers Over 40

If you’re a jobseeker over 40, you know how frustrating the job hunt can be. There’s no doubt you face different challengers than younger candidates.

Higher Compensation Demands

When you’re young, unattached and newly graduated, you can take just about any job that comes along with little regard to pay, benefits or perks. However, when you’ve got a family to support, things are a bit different. Jobseekers over 40 often command a much higher pay rate than younger workers and expect a comprehensive benefits package for themselves and their family.

While understandable, these factors may prevent more experienced workers from successfully competing with younger candidates. It’s a catch 22. The company you’re interested in needs your experience and education but wants your salary expectations to be that of a 20-year-old. It can be very frustrating, not to mention demoralizing.

Social Networking and Technology Deficits

In order to stay current, corporations are using social networking and new technology. Some jobseekers over 40 are reluctant to learn the latest technology and methods of communication, which may cost them a job opportunity. To be competitive with younger jobseekers stay up on current trends.

Family Obligations

Workers over 40 tend to be settled down with families to support and schedules to maintain. Employers who need workers after normal business hours may be reluctant to hire someone they perceive as being inflexible about overtime and travel. If you’re able to be flexible maker sure a potential employers know that.

Being “Overqualified”

According to Tom Bodin of OI Partners, “One of the biggest apprehensions employers have about experienced workers is that they will leave when a job with a higher salary is offered to them. Jobseekers over 40 need to demonstrate how their background, skills, and experience will provide the necessary solutions to solve problems and increase revenue so that everyone’s salaries will increase.”

In other words, employers want to see what you can bring to the table, what you can do to improve the overall performance and operation of a company. Being “overqualified” can be turned into a very strong asset if you can prove your ability to benefit the company as a whole and that you won’t be keeping an eye out for new options that may become available down the road.

The Strongest Assets Job Seekers Over 40 Have to Offer

According to Bettina Seidman of SEIDBET, jobseekers over 40 actually have quite a lot to offer a company. These assets include:

  • Workers over 40 are very educated
  • They are healthier than ever before
  • They are committed to doing quality work
  • They bring patience, expertise, maturity and stability
  • They have great experience
  • They bring good connections to an employer
  • They are great mentors
  • Turnover rates are lower among workers over 40
  • They’re not gaining experience just to move on to another employer

As a jobseeker over 40, it’s important to keep these assets in mind during your next interview. Jot down a few of them and see if you can turn them into descriptions of work you’ve done. Give an example of how your patience, expertise or maturity benefited the last company you worked for. Playing to these specific generational strengths during an interview could be the key to landing your next great job.

Why Being A Job Seeker Over 40 May Hurt You

Alex Sukhoy, M.B.A. – of Creative Cadence offers one common reason employers may be reluctant to hire more seasoned professionals: The assumption that they are too stubborn; that it’s their way or no way.

Demonstrating the ability to be flexible is always a plus at any age. However it’s important to realize that people of different generations have different work ethics. For example, Baby Boomers are known to be the first ones at their desks, usually arriving early in the morning, well before the rest of the team strolls in. This may feel threatening to people in a more casual work environment.

Though there’s no need to compromise your work ethics, do your best to fit in. Veering too far from the company norms can create tension in the workplace. For example, if the company values youth and a more relaxed atmosphere make sure you fit into the company culture.

Get to know your co-workers and supervisors first and get a good feel of the company before making any serious adjustments to your schedule or workload. You don’t want to be thought of as a brownnoser because your work ethic is different than other generations in your office.

When it comes to stereotypes, the two best ways to handle them are to break them or turn them into assets. For example, if you’re worried you don’t understand younger coworkers, join an online social network and make a few connections. Learn the lingo, the popular websites, concerns and jargon. Just don’t try to act like you’re 24 when you’re 45.

What Job Seekers Over 40 Can Do to Improve Their Odds

Mary Greenwood, Attorney and author of several books on interviewing offers these practical tips:

  • Emphasize how you can hit the ground running and don’t need much training or orientation. (This saves the company money.)
  • Emphasize you’re planning to stay for at least five years or longer.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job posting and show how your recent experience fits the desired qualifications.
  • Be enthusiastic and confident. Show that your computer skills are up-to-date and that you know about social media. If your skills need work get some training.
  • During the interview, talk about your recent experience. Saying you did something twenty years ago is not going to help.
  • Don’t wear something frumpy to the interview. Be smart, professional and stylish.
  • Show a willingness to work hard and take on additional duties.

Also, if possible, be willing to be negotiable on salary. If you’re willing to take a pay cut, it may mean the difference between being offered a job with room for future advancement and being passed over. Don’t forget that salary is only part of the overall compensation package.

Remember, just because you’re a certain age doesn’t mean you don’t bring value to the workplace. How you view yourself will affect how you present yourself. Turn your negatives into positives and stereotypes on their heads. You deserve a position where you can use your skills and experience. After all if 40 is the new 30, what have you got to lose?


About Jaime A. Heidel

Jaime A. Heidel is a freelance writer with a passion for helping others. She enjoys writing articles on all subjects and is also a published fiction writer.


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