Monday, February 22, 2010

8 Tips For Getting Hired As An Older Worker

Honing your negotiation skills is a bonus at any age but becomes a necessity as we grow older. Negotiating a satisfactory salary worthy of your experience is a challenge for mature workers. As we age and retire, salary prospects may decline because of age discrimination, transition to self-employment, consulting or part-time employment. Mature workers often times must convince an employer to pay them more than the salary associated with the job. The criteria for a decent salary is based upon experience, education, job responsibilities and the average pay rate of pay for a position. Career coaches advise never to reveal your salary history or salary requirements until an offer is made. Revealing your salary requirements before you’ve been offered the job can lower your starting salary.

Be prepared to negotiation by gathering information and planning a strategy that requires that you assess your strengths and those of the competition. Before an interview evaluate the state of the economy as well as the unemployment rate. Also learn about the history and culture of the company. Rehearse several scenarios and your responses to questions concerning salary with a mentor, career counselor or friend. Practice until the information flows easily off your tongue.

When you are older it takes longer to get hired according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. For example, people over the age of 55 take an average of 29.9 weeks to find gainful employment, and those under 55 look for a job for about 21.4 weeks. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, the desired salary of the job hunter also affects the length of the search. Those looking for $40,000 to $75,000 take an average of 25 weeks to find a job, and people who expect to earn $100,000 take more than 30 weeks to secure one.

Being savvy to new market trends plays an important role. Older workers may require career coaching to learn how to better market themselves. Others believe that the same methods that worked for them when they first started their career are still as effective today. While some techniques may still be successful, people don’t realize that the content, style and format of a resume, for example, has changed in the last 20 years and marketing techniques have changed as well. Money spent on career counseling can save time and help older workers to learn new marketing skills. Getting feedback from a career coach can help in developing self awareness about how you come across to a potential employer. Practicing interviewing with a professional can target skills that need to be developed as well as improving their delivery. While a mature worker offers a background of diverse skills and multi-tasking, updating their resume style plus the ability to send out dynamic cover letters can help them stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive market place. They must write their resumes for the future demonstrating how their skills can earn money for their new employer and help others.

Having too much experience can be tricky. Earlier in your career lack of experience may have resulted in not being qualified for a job. Now when you are older, too much experience can backfire because to an employer experience also means you want more money. Often expectations of an older worker are painfully unrealistic. They need to research how to get a job using social marketing sites on the Internet . A crash course on how to join networks, build a profile and market themselves as well as Networking Netiquette and making contact with others on-line may be needed. The series has published books on marketing for Linked-in, Facebook and Twitter that are helpful in understanding how social media can work for you.

To better grasp the market and apply for long-term assignments, identify industries in your region that are growing or at least stable. Select markets that do reasonably well in good or bad times such as the food industry, transportation, utilities/energy, healthcare and accounting according to the MetLife Study of the New Realities of the Job Market for Aging Baby Boomer.

To succeed in today’s job market workers skill- set must be continually evolving. Mature workers should have a basic awareness of their strengths, passions and values. Rather than enroll in an academic program for a degree, job experts recommend taking on-line certification classes. is one organization that provides on-line certification classes in IT and business subjects. For example, the program includes reading on-line books that are part of the program, software, practice session and tests on material that lead up to a certification exam as well as a mentor can help you achieve your goals.

Hiring managers will often judge a candidate based on their technology skills. Aging Boomers who do not keep their technology skills up to date are creating barriers for themselves in the job market because it gives employers one more reason to reject older job seekers.  Seek out organizations that demonstrate a management style and work culture that is respectful of all workers. has more than 60 companies that pass a test through its “Age Friendly Employer Certification Program as well as AARP, according to MetLife Insurance.

Networks are critical for Boomers who often must count on personal relationships to cut through the impersonal electronic application process and age bias. Job coaches advise you to continually build a network and evaluate your skills through skills and assessment testing to give you better insight into your strengths to make sure that they are in sync with the market place.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Avoid Career Change Blunders

Making a career change without a strategic plan can wreak havoc in your life. Seasoned executives make unfortunate and ill-timed career moves according the Harvard Business Review.

Job moves are inevitable but seldom easy. The average baby boomer will switch jobs 10 times, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Too often job changes lead to a decline in performance that can last up to five years. People who switch organizations face an upheaval in their home and social life that can involve potential relocation expenses and adjustment to a new corporate culture and political environment. To minimize these effects careful and conscious assessment of risks can help prevent making mistakes that can ultimately sabotage your career.

Job hopping errors were analyzed from data from three executive research teams comprised of a survey of 400 executive search consultant from more than 50 industries, HR heads at 15 multi-national companies and interviews with 500 C-level executives in 40 countries. Executives surveyed were not young, untested managers but experienced individuals who had substantial practice in making hiring decisions on themselves.

Avoid these nine mistakes when searching for a new job:


Search consultants revealed that often job seeking clients don’t research their own industries. Many of candidates have not looked for a job in years. Since they are not informed about the present job market, they have unrealistic expectations about how long the search will take. They assume, for example, that companies offering them a job are financially sound. Yet, many businesses hire for senior level positions even when there are problems ahead. So it is up to the applicant to investigate to see if the job will exist in six month.


While hiring managers are supposed to supply this information, often they don’t. It pays to take the time to contact people who work for an organization to determine what the corporate culture is really like.


In poorly managed organizations people find themselves in jobs that have little relationship to their formal titles. One executive, for example, was given a CFO title even though most of his work involved duties of a COO. As a result, he lacked the credibility he needed to get the job done.


Job candidates often fail to ask potential employers about how their performance will be measured. Without an understanding of this information a job candidate’s success depends totally on luck.


Often executives rank income fourth or fifth in terms of importance when contemplating a job search but move it to first place when making their decision. In one case, an executive was about to make a move but realized that he would be increasing his salary by $10,000 but realized it was not worth it since he would be leaving behind his old contacts and relationships.


Unhappy with their present position a candidate mayl rush to another position without waiting for the right offer. Job seekers do not take the time to do intensive research when they have the opportunity to move on to what they think are greener pastures. They forget to look strategically at their current company for other opportunities that may still exist for them. They may fail to imagine what their job would be like if their boss left.


According to search consultants some applicants over estimate their skills and contribution and undervalue the strengths of their company in helping them achieve their goals. They do not realize the length of the job search and what the costs will be. They may also miscalculate their new salary and the ability to deal with the challenges of a new organization that could be too large to easily implement change.


Short term decisions can feed into each of the mistakes listed above and create problems. Pressure can force candidates to focus on details such as salary and job title instead of raising deeper questions that involve long term evaluation.

Creating strategies outside traditional thinking can prevent you from accepting an easier solution. Self-awareness is very important say experts. With the help of a mentor you can create a list of positive and negative scenarios that can be used to plot a three year path at each company evaluating what decisions would be right in each situation before leaving a job for a new one. With more self knowledge you will be aware of mistakes you’re prone to make, how to correct these errors, how others perceive you, and the elements of a job that can help balance life and work.

*material excerpted from "Five ways to Bungle a Job Change," by Boris Groysberg, associate professor at Harvard business school and Robin Abrahams, research associate which appears in the January & February issue of Harvard Business Review