by Ken Boots
You must think I am crazy as a professional recruiter to raise awareness around what many would consider a delicate issue. Everybody knows it, everybody talks about it, yet few acknowledge it, or ever bother to make a genuine effort to help. I regularly share these tips with candidates and hope they may be of help to you.
I am talking about A-G-E discrimination. You would think that mature experience and a wealth of wisdom would count for something. Yet depending on the type of job, even those as young as mid 40's can struggle to snag their ideal job within a reasonable time frame. As the years creep-on the odds invariably stack higher, giving many talented professionals the feeling of being relegated to the scrap heap. This can translate into despondency, lethargy, negative thoughts, self doubt, anger, frustration, disappointment and even self pity.
Everyday I interview amazing talent; professionals capable of making a solid contribution to a business yet many mature candidates fail to secure jobs they truly seek as some employers remain fixated around employing people who they 'perceive' will deliver more energy, passion, fire in the belly, etc. While there is no doubt many mature candidates convey great vigor, equally there are many who simply no longer feel they need to demonstrate being over-zealous as they have learnt the art of being a quiet achiever. While this may work to your advantage from inside a corporate bubble it will invariably work against you if you are trying to break in from the outside.
Fountain of youth
Regularly I encounter clients who desire youthful candidates, perhaps reflected by the society we are immersed, in some cases necessary to provide the ideal corporate culture fit, or there are certainly cases where it is simply a narrow minded view which equates to outright discrimination. Regardless, it can at times result in lost opportunities; loss for the job seeker and most certainly for the employer as the perception abounds that to be energetic also means being youthful. The fact is that many mature people can run rings around their younger counterparts on many levels.
Grow a pair
Employers have been known to be fearful that a job seeker who doesn't ooze energy will fail to deliver the drive or passion necessary to succeed. It takes a progressive recruiter who possesses the skills of an accomplished talent sourcer, coupled with an open-minded employer, to realize that what is under the surface counts most of all.
Hope springs eternal
My clients consistently seek my advice as to who represents the ideal candidate for a role, sometimes that might mean someone young while other times it could be a middle aged person or mature person. The ideal candidate in my opinion must always be the one that not only possesses the right experience, skill set and talent but most importantly represent an ideal corporate culture fit for the business; regardless of age, sex or culture.
Ten age-defying tips
- Keep fit and healthy; first impressions are all important
- Always remain determined, persistent, professional and positive; even in the face of adversity
- Demonstrate genuine enthusiasm and passion, as though it was the first job you ever wanted
- Maintain and build your network of influential business connections
- Build the most authoritative and engaging LinkedIn profile
- Secure both endorsements and solid recommendations from past associates and proudly publish them on your LinkedIn profile
- Brush up on your niche of expertise, study latest techniques, obtain current certifications, examine trends, explore new ideas; all of this will strengthen your professional profile and impress potential employers
- Publish 'quantifiable and qualifiable' results that sells your worth on both your resume and LinkedIn profile as every business wants to know how they will recoup their investment in you
- Embrace modern technology with zeal so you may handle the latest tools in the workplace
- Immerse yourself in social media; pick just one platform to start and put all your focus into engaging with others, share your knowledge, experience and passion to position yourself as a leading authority and thought leader. LinkedIn groups can be a great starting point
It generally takes considerable time, hard work and lots of effort to secure any ideal job, regardless of age. Remain persistent and singularly focussed on your end goal. Only once you have positioned yourself strategically by completing your age-defying tasks is it then time to connect with the right recruiter and your influential connections to hoist your flag and seize those golden opportunities that best suit your talent.
About the Author:
Ken Boots is a talent sourcer at Admiral Solutions | Recruitment Agency of mid to senior level Sales and Marketing roles across the Australasian and North American markets.
He gets a real buzz matching job seekers with their ideal employer.