What the mature job seeker needs to know to get a job offer

The Mature, Overqualified Job Seeker

by Linda Shapero

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Job seeking in middle age can be a rude awakening. If you are having difficulty getting over the shock of being laid off, downsized, or whatever your former company called it, you need to get over it in a hurry. Your first priority is to find work and as soon as possible!

Perhaps you are under the illusion that since you worked in a particular industry or field for most of your working career, you will have it all over the new kids coming out of college so eager to get their feet wet. Sorry to tell you, but it just doesn't work that way anymore.

As a mature job seeker, you may be treated with respect for the knowledge you've acquired in your past work, but then on the other hand, you may be treated like a dinosaur.

The mature job seeker should answer the following questions honestly:

  • Have you kept up with technology? If you are dazed by computers, have you done anything to improve your skills?
  • Do you know the latest information in your field, or are you resting on your laurels by citing examples of work you did over 20 years ago?
  • Are you an energetic and enthusiastic team player?

These are just a few of the things that will be considered by prospective employers.

Furthermore, what kind of shape is your resume in? You do know, I am sure, that one resume is not adequate if you are applying for different types of jobs. Also, today's employers want results-oriented resumes.

Don't just say that you headed a sales team that sold widgets. Elaborate by telling them how many widgets your team sold. Better yet, cite what the increase in sales was from the previous year, particularly if it was an impressive improvement. Another great item on a resume is a line or two describing how you saved the company money; companies love that. And that's just the kind of information that can win you an interview.

Some job experts advise you to go back only about ten years. Remember that Human Resources personnel don't have the time to read two and three page resumes, no matter how impressive your past experience may be. With companies receiving hundreds, or more, resumes for every job advertised, they will toss out a long resume, rather than read it. Also, many companies today use scanning equipment that pick up key words they are looking for; if your resume doesn't have them, you won't be hearing from them.

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Job seeking for the older worker is a lot like dating after being married for 20 years and then divorcing. Just the idea of going on an interview can be intimidating.

Find out what people are wearing these days to initial interviews. Do your clothes seem outdated? Will you be overdressed compared to others waiting to be interviewed?

If you've been out in the business world lately, you will have observed that work attire is quite different than it used to be. In a lot of ways, it seems almost anything goes, but is that true of interview apparel?

It's suggested that you read up on appropriate clothing on some of the job search related websites on the Internet. If you can afford it, invest in a decent outfit or two (in case there's a second interview) that will not only look good on you but bolster your confidence. Get it right because you only have one chance to make a good impression!

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And speaking of confidence, it's sometimes hard to remember all the important things you've accomplished in your career. Before the interview, make notes on the most important highlights of your work life and be able to discuss them. Your interviewer will be looking for things that set you apart from the rest of the crowd. This is your chance to shine so be sure to rehearse before the interview.

As daunting as the experience of looking for a new job may be to you, the mature, over-qualified job seeker, remember that you are the only one who can actually go out there and sell yourself. Although it may not be easy or quick, if you are prepared and show that you are smart and confident, you will have a good chance of finding yourself employed again, regardless of your age.

Take the Next Step:

  • Have you been laid off? Here are some things you should do if you find yourself suddenly retired.
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