“It’s my age, that’s what it is”, Joan lamented. “I need to come to terms with the fact that I’m just of ‘that age’. No-one wants a person of my age in the workplace!”
Joan is wrong. Sure, if she wants to be an actress in a teen comedy, yes that’s probably true. If she wants to be a top-level fashion model, it’s probably true too. But a retail manager of a fashion store? A real estate agent? Just about any supervisory or management role in a range of industries for which she is highly qualified? Of course she has the same chance as anyone else with equal skills and knowledge.
It’s not so much Joan’s age that’s holding her back from securing a new job, it’s her outdated way of thinking.
Using antiquated job search methods, believing in truisms that were outdated thirty years ago, and then complaining of age discrimination when you’ve done everything possible to reinforce people’s ideas about what it means to be “old” is an exercise in self sabotage.
Let’s look at some outdated job-search beliefs that may be holding you back.
Outdated Language. Reinforcing your age by talking about “the young girls in the office” or “of course, back then we used to use [insert antiquated piece of technology], or “in my day…” is going to widen the divide between you and younger people with whom you may work. Just as you no longer wear leg warmers, a headband or do Jane Fonda workout videos, don’t live in the past in the way you communicate either.
Pouring over the classified job ads. Spending hours examining classified job advertisements is old-fashioned and one of the most difficult ways to get a job. Hours can be wasted while you find a job and prepare an application only to find you’re one of hundreds who have applied. Sure you have a chance, but putting yourself in that pool of candidates means you’re fighting a losing battle from the start. Of course job boards and classifieds have their place, but your professional network can influence and fast track these engagements if you nurture it well. Don’t scoff at social media; it’s not a young person’s game. It can be a savvy candidate’s ticket to a job offer. Ignore it to your detriment.
Resumes must be [insert number] pages. At some point you heard some sage advice and it stuck with you and now you believe it. It may have been true when you first started looking to join the workforce, but it’s no longer true now. By sticking to this outdated piece of your own advice, you’re limiting your potential for scoring an interview. Just how many of your achievements and experience do you want to sacrifice so you can reach an arbitrary number of pages? I’m not giving you carte blanch to create a 50-page resume, but adding half a page to a two-page resume to tell your whole story and create a compelling value proposition for your services, needs to be considered.
Mature job seekers don’t need to put on the fake persona. No-one likes someone trying to recapture their youth by wearing inappropriate clothing and hairstyles or trying to be “cool”. In fact, it can be downright embarrassing for everyone in the workplace. But reinforcing your age by stubbornly clinging to outdated ideas and methods of the past, may very well have potential employers re-thinking your candidacy. After all, will you show those same antiquated ideas in a young and vital workplace?
It’s not your age that gives people pause for thought, it’s your inability to move with the times.
I’m thrilled to be part of the Career Collective, a group of professionals who meet monthly to blog about a certain topic. Please return in the next couple of days to read some other articles on this theme and look for #careercollective on Twitter.
- Juice Up Your Job Search, @debrawheatman
- Want a Job? Ignore these outdated job search beliefs @erinkennedycprw
- Job Search Then and Now, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
- Break the Rules or Change the Game? @WalterAkana
- The New: From The Employer’s-Eye View, @ResumeService
- Job Search: Breakable Rules and Outdated Beliefs, @KatCareerGal
- Job Hunting Rules to Break (Or Why and How to Crowd Your Shadow), @chandlee @StartWire,
- Shades of Gray, @DawnBugni
- 3 Rules That Are Worth Your Push-Back, @WorkWithIllness
- Your Photo on LinkedIn – Breaking a Cardinal Job Search Rule? @KCCareerCoach
- How to find a job: stop competing and start excelling, @Keppie_Careers
- Be You-Nique: Resume Writing Rules to Break, @ValueIntoWords
- Modernizing Your Job Search, @LaurieBerenson
- Don’t Get Caught With an Old School Resume, @barbarasafani
- How Breaking the Rules Will Help You in Your Job Search, @expatcoachmegan
- Beat the Job-Search-Is-a-Numbers-Game Myth, @JobHuntOrg
- 25 Habits to Break if You Want a Job, @CareerSherpa