Ageism as a challenge gets thrown around a lot in the executive recruiting world. There is this false assumption that because you’re a certain age that you won’t get the job. The reality is there are plenty of companies who will hire you for your expertise regardless of your age if you can properly convey your value.
Yet many executives looking for work still cite ageism as their main challenge in landing the job. Pardon the bluntness, but perhaps “ageism” isn’t the real problem here. In fact, it’s very likely that perhaps you’re making some mistakes that portray you as dated, inflexible and victimized - characteristics that are unattractive at any age.
Use our tips to make sure you aren’t coming off this way in your job hunt.
Your resume is outdated.
Resume trends change all the time. What worked 15-20 years ago will not work today. Furthermore, if you’re still working with the resume your college’s career center taught you to write, and have just been adding your jobs as they happen, then you’re in for a very rude awakening. You wouldn’t wear a suit from 1995, so why would you use a resume format from the same era? The days of sending in paper resumes are gone. Objectives have also been thrown out with yesterday’s trash. Additionally, everything has gone digital so if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or a way to participate in mobile recruiting then you’re going to struggle finding job.
The people you are contacting prefer corresponding via email—and you’re calling.
In the age of smart phones it’s a miracle if anyone uses a phone to actually talk on it anymore. The truth is several people loathe using the phone and prefer using email. It’s quick, easy, doesn’t really interrupt their day and doesn’t take nearly as much time. You may think it’s impersonal, but the reality is you can easily have the same conversation via email as you would on the phone. If you insist on calling (or worse, faxing) when your contacts clearly prefer email then you’re annoying them. It also shows you haven’t gotten with the times. That’s far worse than running the risk of being impersonal, which no one thinks of email anyway.
You don’t understand effective email communication.
The point of email and instant messaging is that it’s quick and to the point. If this is how a prospective employer operates for intercompany communications then you need to make sure you’re with the program. That means you must avoid sending confusing subject lines and emails that are the length of the Old Testament. MindTools has a great guide on how to properly write effective emails for business. Learning how to write catchy email taglines and first email lines is key to increasing the chances of your email getting read.
You make it hard for people to reach you.
Make sure your resume has a mobile number, email address and LinkedIn profile URL listing in the top section easily seen. Put some variation of your contact information in the summary section of your LinkedIn Profile, twitter bio and/or about.me pages. Google your name and see what options come up and see if it is easy to contact you when clicking on those links. Also, evaluate your email provider. Sometimes Verizon.net and aol.com email addresses can over filter emails and bounce emails being sent to you—even if you initially emailed the person. So ask friends to email you and see if messages bounce---and consider moving email to a more universal provider, such as Gmail.com.
You’re focused too much on the past during job interviews.
While it’s good to touch upon past accomplishments during job interviews you must remember to balance it out with some forward thinking conversation. For instance, don’t forget to mention how your skills can help the company with their current issues. You also need to talk about how you can contribute to company goals both now and in the future.
You’re too expensive.
This isn’t to say that companies are trying to get experience for cheap. It just means they have a budget to work with and not every position needs the expense associated with bringing on an experienced person. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t buy a BMW, if a Toyota suffices for what you need. Sometimes the executive role a company needs to fill doesn’t require so much accumulated experience and therefore isn’t worth the cost. This isn’t ageism, it’s just finances. With all of this outlined, know that I do believe ageism exists in hiring and can be a valid issue in preventing an appropriately qualified, within-the-budget executive getting hired. However, often, I see ageism is not the reason and one of the above reasons is the root of the issue. When someone cites the ageism cause without looking at what they can change or other valid business concerns, all they are doing is destroying their own mindset to get positive results from the search.
Lisa Rangel and the Chameleon Resume team have helped hundreds of people just like you get the 6-figure position they deserve.
If you are interested in working with an elite team of former Fortune 500 recruiters and executive resume writers to win the attention of hiring managers and start landing more interviews, sign up for an exploratory call now to discuss next steps.