If you’re an older job-seeker, you know all too well that ageism can prove be a real obstacle to overcome in your job search efforts. However if you hope to be successful, you can’t allow your date of birth to stop you from presenting yourself with vigour and confidence. The following are four ways mature applicants can actively address the age factor, and how to gain an edge in their executive job hunts.
Sell Results, Not Years
Remember that companies today are looking for business results beyond anything else. Talk the language that an employer understands and appreciates: Return-on-Investment (ROI). Instead of citing your decades of experience, identify your benefits to the employer; place them into monetary terms as much as possible. Back up your accomplishments with benefit-based facts. Sell them from the perspective of the result of your work and how it has positively impacted your previous employers.
Proactively address the age issue
It is common knowledge that the typical younger employer is likely to hold a variety of unfavourable stereotypes they associate with age. However, unless your interviewer is hopelessly inept, these objections are likely to remain unspoken. This renders the ageism as a silent killer to your job prospects.
Therefore practice ways you can proactively bring these harsh stereotypes out into the open, address them, and show how you defy them. Demonstrate that your age and experience can and will give you the edge over other younger competition vying for the executive position.
For example, let your networking contacts and interviewers know that you have kept up with the latest industry principles and technologies. You can also draw reference to the fact that you enjoy working with and learning from people of all ages. Mention how you’ve reported to younger bosses many times in the past and it was never a problem.
Be flexible regarding salary
Wages always play a critical role in the hiring process. The best candidate in the world may not be offered a position if they refuse to scale back on their salary expectations. Take advantage of this whenever possible. You’ll have a significant advantage over younger candidates if you’re willing to accept a lower base salary up front; to make up for this lower base salary, negotiate for greater performance-based bonuses or equities. Companies always prefer to hire executives who are willing to prove themselves first.
Before entering into the interview process, carefully consider what minimum salary you need. Then, when asked about your salary requirements, mention that once you learn more about the position’s requirements and the company’s full compensation structure — including salary, bonus, profit-sharing, perks, and equity — you’ll be in a better position to answer.
By reducing initial salary requirements is often a critical reason that an executive candidate receives an offer. And in most cases, by negotiating a stronger performance-based pay scale, an executive can typically end up making more money in the long term, because of deferred compensation they earn for excellent performances.
Describe your flexible management style
There is a generally held belief that 50+ job seekers are set in their ways and are far more reluctant to change than their younger counterparts. To counter this perception, make a point to talk about how you have modified your managerial approach to fit different situations and varied corporate environments. For instance, mention how you responded to unanticipated problems like a product recall, the loss of a significant client, or a new government regulation that critically affects your industry. The point of these examples are to show that you can roll with the punches and adapt with changing circumstances just as well as, or better than, any 35 or 40 year-old executive candidate.
If you’re a well-seasoned executive in your fifties or beyond, all is not lost in your job hunting prospects. While there will be age discrimination with some naïve or arrogant employers, you can still stack the deck in your favour. Focus on the organisation’s needs and draw from successes in your past to provide solid fiscally-based answers to their questions. Remember, the executive job search process is about being honest, but also about emphasising your strengths rather than magnifying your deficiencies. If you do so, you can find a great executive position regardless of your age.
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