Use the advantages that you have and emphasize the benefits you can provide an employer.
If you're over 50 and looking for a job, it's too easy to assume that companies all prefer younger people. That's a mistake. You have strengths, experiences, and qualities that many employers want. The trick is to remember what you can offer and to put it front and center, according to a recent survey of 1,913 human resources professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
As SHRM noted in another analysis, mature workers "have experience and skills honed during decades of employment" that offer significant benefits to employers. They will also be increasingly necessary to companies. Mature workers come from a demographically large generation and the "population of younger workers with the education and skills to replace Baby Boomers is not large enough -- or growing fast enough -- to make up for the older generation's departure."
The percentage of workers who are 55 or older is projected to grow by 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, while the percentage from 25 to 55 will likely expand by only 2 percent. "There will not be enough younger workers for all the positions an organization needs to fill, particularly those requiring advanced manufacturing skills or advanced education in science, technology, engineering and math," says SHRM.
All that is good news for the older job seeker, but to seal the deal, you need to remind potential employers of the top benefits they're likely to appreciate in hiring someone who is mature. Here are the top qualities you should demonstrate and communicate, based on the top five advantages employers perceive older workers having:
- Show your business knowledge and skills, which 77 percent of those polled cited. That means polishing your resume and personal presentation to show what you have.
- Seventy-one percent said that older workers are more mature and professional. Keep your job hunt and interviewing approach appropriate.
- A strong work ethic is important, according to 70 percent.
- You're not just there to perform a job but to be a mentor to younger workers, said 63 percent of respondents. Note your willingness to work with younger employees.
- Fifty-nine percent of HR professionals thought that older workers were more reliable. Be sure to reinforce this notion at every step.
- Proofread everything you send, as 45 percent of HR pros said that older workers showed better written English than younger people.
- Be ready to demonstrate your critical thinking and self-direction, mentioned by 28 percent and 23 percent of respondents, respectively.
Many companies have yet to understand the importance of hiring older workers, but by communicating through speech, writing, action, and examples the benefits you offer, you should find employers who will respond positively.