How to compete against a younger applicant and succeed!

You have sent out your resume to several opportunities that you are clearly a fit for…but you still have not heard anything back and are not getting the results that you expected.

Job search methods for those over 50…must include strategies to address the additional challenges that come with age, experience and knowledge.

We will be interviewed by managers who are younger, less experienced and perhaps fearful of us…the fear comes from their lack of experience and maturity.

They may fear that we are after their job… Chances are that they will not recognize the value we can add to their team. We need to show them that we can be a trusted “advisor” and a great source of knowledge and not an adversary.

While age is a critical “key” benefit, it also presents one of our biggest challenges, and that is to illustrate during an interview or via a cover letter that we are better assets than younger, less experienced candidates.

I’m going to teach you how to use your experience and knowledge in your favor, and highlight the benefits that comes with it, WITHOUT inducing fear from those you interview with – and offer some career advice for those over 50, that will help you keep your career on track and moving forward.

How to compete against a younger applicant and succeed

Having over 30 years of experience in the business world, I’ve seen how everything we knew about success and getting ahead in the business world change dramatically. The rapid development of new technology, social media, portable handheld devices and other elements have changed the way businesses operate, communicate and sell.

New technology and job search methods come and go, but to complete and get the job that a younger candidate is also applying for, you must be well versed in the new technologies…and keep yourself updated and your skills according to the current requirement in today’s work world.

Learning new technology and getting updates on the latest trends always help in securing the job…and will keep you relevant in a fast moving world

Create a Strong Personal Brand

Being over 50 or 60 presents us with challenges for sure, but it also creates major advantage, and that is if you know how to market yourself and create a strong personal brand that creates value and highlights the many wonderful advantages that our exclusive club brings to the table.

Also, let’s not forget about your large network and those all contacts that you’ve built-up during your years will make great references.

Think of it as your Value Proposition. In short, it’s:

  • The “been there…done that” voice and flair…this will display your confidence!
  • A value proposition is a certain “pizzazz” our age group’s knowledge, maturity and confidence brings to the table
  • You are supported by a depth of useful skills (technical, industry and most importantly interpersonal) that our experiences afford us…this is where we separate ourselves from others who are younger than us
  • We all get better with age, and that is nothing to be afraid of or hide, so use it to leverage our life’s experiences – and deliver a more rewarding outcome

Many times younger candidates are nervous because they lack many of the experiences we have acquired or may not be as confident in certain matters that may be important in the job you are seeking.

Make your age and experience work for you, not against you

Being in that elite “experienced” crowd you offer more than someone younger. You know more, you’ve been there and done that – BUT – you also are probably applying to a job that will report to someone younger than you and lee mature and who may be scared or threatened by you.

That’s right, scared and/or threatened that your experience may make them uneasy, and so there lies another challenge. There is a very fine line between bringing experience and knowledge AND not being seen as a threat to the person sitting on the other side of the table and interviewing you.

Employers today are very conscious of how you fit into the office environment.

Do your homework. Know your audience. Learn all you can about those doing the interview. What is it that they are seeking, and how does it match-up to what you bring to the table? Understanding the environment…the make-up of the team, and the culture of the organization and show how you are a fit.

You want to be an answer to their problem and not add to it.

In the job interview you must show them that you will be an asset to them, a trusted “advisor” and are not trying to take their job. That you can fit into a younger, “more hip” workplace. If you haven’t seen the movie, “The Intern” (with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway) yet – see it, as it illustrates this point perfectly.

Today, more than ever, people are working longer and later in life, and that presents very different challenges that requires a unique perspective (from someone like me who has, and still is living it).

Successful careers don’t just happen

The strategies for those of us on AARP mailing list are NOT the same as they were just starting our careers.

Earlier in our careers, a simple resume is all that we may have needed to get a job. However, it this stage of our careers we must now craft and execute an effective job search campaign that only BEGINS with the resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)…A well-crafted resume, while it is one of your primary marketing tools, it alone, will NOT result in a job offer.

Your cover letter MUST be compelling to draw in the reader…so learning how to write a powerful and inspiring cover letter is an important resource that most do not give much thought to…failing to properly understand it’s importance. It’s like a book cover; it draws the reader’s attention, like a book on a bookshelf.

It is usually first touch point to a recruiter or hiring manager – your resume is NOT your only tool.

Today most recruiters and employers WILL call your references, WILL do credit and criminal background checks, WILL search social media (and yes will judge you on those stupid teenage posts and photos), so be careful of your social media presence.

They do this to learn more about your character, and will try to paint a picture and profile of you…all to see if you are the type of person they want to invest in and bring on-board.

Standards are higher and the scrutiny of credentials and backgrounds are much more intense than years past.

Stand out from the crowd instead of looking like hundreds of other applicants?

Starting with a personal brand that I will help you develop (I call this thinking of “You” as a company or brand), and then creating a powerful career strategy and resume; you will be on your way to a better more fulfilling career and get the job or that promotion you want.

This “brand” thinking will position you as a high quality employee regardless of your age that employers will want to hire, hold on to, promote, see as an asset, and not lose to competition. It takes you from the cover letter to the resume to the Thank You and Follow-up — all that you do here is what creates your unique brand.

In Conclusion

Being able to write an effective resume and learning how to build your brand and value proposition that leads to a job interview, are just a few of the most important skills a person needs in order to manage a fulfilling and satisfying career, especially for those of us over 50.

In today’s competitive job market, you need the right combination of education, experience and skills to stand out among other candidates. It’s even more important to develop your own personal brand (which I touched on above, and will discuss in more detail in later articles). I’ll also cover learning about different strategies for standing out from the competition can go a long way toward finding the perfect job for you.

I will teach you how to design a great resume, how to excel at a job interview, everything you will need to know in today’s competitive market. From marketing yourself (otherwise called Branding) to networking…I will guide you through these events (and more) with the experience that my many years gives me and the unique situations that I have experienced firsthand — with friendly hand holding advise of a friend guiding you step-by-step.

Learning to use your EXPERIENCE to your advantage is going to be your biggest ASSET that will help your stand out from the crowd…and calm those who interview you and help them to see why you are a great fit and how you can become a trusted “advisor” to them and NOT a threat! (Remember, these folks may be younger than you and may be fearful of your vast knowledge and experience).

Learn all you can about those doing the interview. What is it that they are seeking, and how does it match-up to what you bring to the table? Understanding the environment…the make-up of the team, and the culture of the organization and show how you are a fit.

Do your homework. Know your audience.

What’s on your mind?

This site’s success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors to open.

I invite you all to share your stories of challenge and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped – so please add your comment or insight!

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2 thoughts on “How to compete against a younger applicant and succeed!”

  1. Great article and very informative! As I am getting older I am finding that it is harder and harder to compete in my career and continue to move up in my company. Thank you for providing such great ideas on how to still get an edge over the younger competition. Do you see in your experience that decisions are being made to hire younger individuals due to lower pay vs. keeping or hiring for experience?

    • Hi Daniel…

      Unfortunately, and sadly, yes, I do.  However, I think it is mostly due to one or possibly two things.  One, it is in part due to an inexperienced recruiter or hiring manager.  They just do not understand what more value an experienced hire could bring to the company, even if they cost more (they fail to see that their impact can be far greater).

      Secondly, it is done out of fear, especially from a much younger hiring manager that you may be reporting to — that is where you need to show them that you can be a trusted “advisor” and a great source of knowledge and not an adversary.  Make sure that you tell them you want to help the situation and that you are excited about this opportunity to contribute, and that you are not here to take their job, but to help them and make THEM and the TEAM look great.  

      Thank you again, Daniel.  Best of luck, and please do not hesitate to ask me any questions if there is anything in particular that I could help you with or any specific questions that you may have.



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