The Myths (And Truths) About Job Searching After Age 40
After the age of 40, you have great work experience, supported with good education and valuable qualifications, a substantial number of contacts, and an immense amount of skills.
However, you were somehow left redundant or decided that you want to change your workplace but you are afraid you might not find a new job.
There are several issues that bother you and stop you from moving on. Some of them are myths, some might be imagined obstacles, and, well, some of them might have some validity.
You might think you are too old or too qualified and therefore expensive, or you might see yourself less productive to be hired compared to younger candidates, but actually, you could be just afraid to try something new.
As the world population becomes older, especially in developed countries, we witness a bigger and bigger number of older employees too. As the number of aged employees increases, so does the age discrimination when applying for a job. There is research by AARP which shows that ⅔ of the workers aged 45 and above have experienced some form of age discrimination.
On the other hand, a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology showed that the probability for both older and younger job applicants to be hired was smaller than the middle-aged candidates, with the oldest job applicants being the least probable to get the job.
Hiring young candidates at the age of 30 or younger is noticeable in the tech sector. However, the non-tech sector hasn’t been lagging behind lately as well.
There is this study which shows that the job response rate for older applicants was lower than for the younger ones and that the gap was even bigger for women than men. Ageism, as a new wave, will be more and more present, as the population grows older.
All this doesn’t mean we have to stay in the workplace we don’t like anymore or stop searching for a new one after the age of 40. On the contrary, it means that we have to look carefully at what skills and abilities to emphasize in a job interview and what info to hide until later.
But, first of all, let’s get rid of the myths which hang over our minds and discourage us to search for a new job when we get over 40.
“I Am Too Old To Be Hired”
Nope, you are not! “When applicants are over 40, fear is what gets them”, says Joshua Miller, a coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. Being too old is a state of mind. Some people feel young when they are over 60, others feel old at the age of 30.
It is never too late for anything and trying to find a new job after the age of 40 is as fair as for any other age group. In addition, there is this research that shows that the preferred age for hiring applicants is 42-48. Younger or older candidates are less likely to be hired.
So don’t lose hope and take the plunge!
When you apply for a job or fill in an application form, make sure you age-proof your resume and adapt it to the ad’s needs and in line with the research you did about the company. Listing all your skills and experience might not be the best option. It might be quite a long list and not that important anyway. Leave out everything older than 10 years or whatever is not relevant to the current post.
Some studies show that resumes should not be longer than 1 or 2 pages because hiring managers tend to spend only 6 seconds on average looking at it. Submit the resume electronically, if possible. This is how you would avoid inappropriate age prejudices and get a chance for an interview.
“They Think I Have Less Energy And I Am Less Productive To Do The Job”
Despite the stereotypes that workers lack more energy and productivity as they grow older, many studies have shown the opposite. Namely, according to this research on longevity, the older workers turned out to be healthier, feel more satisfied at work, and are more loyal to their company than their younger colleagues.
Another research showed that people under 45 were more exhausted than those over 45.
As we said before, fear can be the biggest enemy when looking for a job.
When in an interview, try to focus on how you can contribute to the company’s success and not on what you can’t do. It means you should focus on your strengths and uplevel the way you see yourself. It will give you positive energy and a better chance to get the job.
If you meet the hiring manager in an interview, instead of emphasizing your rich experience and all the projects you have done successfully, try to show the enthusiasm for your new post and your eagerness to start working on that challenging new job. Your hiring manager may be younger than you, and you might intimidate them unintentionally with your know-it-all attitude. Just don’t get discouraged.
There are studies done by the SHRM that show that being older doesn’t mean being less productive. Robin Ryan the author of Over 40 & You’re Hired says “Be innovative and demonstrate your ability to lead… , to enhance productivity with a process or system improvements, and to save or make the company money.”
“Am I Overqualified For The Job?”
Unfortunately, if you are over 40 and the employer tells you, “I am sorry, but you are overqualified”, it is not difficult to assume that they are actually telling you, “you are too old for this position”, however, even this should be taken with a grain of salt.
According to a research by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, ⅓ of the workers over 50, who looked for a job, were told they can’t get the job because they were overqualified.
It doesn’t have to mean that you are old, maybe you are really overqualified, but let’s say you were a supervisor at your previous job and now you’re applying for a lower job rank in this company. The employer holds the right to be suspicious that this might be your temporary job until you find a better one, be unhappy, and thus unproductive and even looking for a bigger salary than the younger counterparts.
No matter what the assumptions of the interviewer are, you should never give up. As we said before, it is your spirit, not your actual age that determines how you represent yourself.
Finally, you have to be sure what you want from this job. Adapt your resume and try not to make a long tedious list of past experiences and jobs. Try to show you are enthusiastic and full of energy, rather than negotiating about the salary only.
Show them you are ready to connect to the other employees no matter their age or position because this will give them a sign you have no problem working under the supervision of a younger person.
“I Won’t Reach The Interview Phase.”
If you have gone through the first phase, which means selecting candidates based on their resumes, you are closer to an interview for your new job.
You have become quite experienced up until now who has gone through different types of conversations, meetings, important deals, and projects with colleagues or partners at work, so a job interview should not be a stressful thing for you as it would be for someone younger than you.
Knowing this, it will boost your self-confidence and the interview will go smoother.
Still, there are things that one should bear in mind. Think about the interview as an exchange of information where you show curiosity.
You need to collect extra information about the company so that you can identify the areas where you can contribute the most to the company and represent yourself as a partner, not just as an ordinary employee.
Modesty has always been a hit in the interviews. It doesn’t mean that you should be shy and quiet, but rather be patient and collaborative. Collaboration is a characteristic of younger generations – millennials, not that the older have never used it.
But research says that millennials like to share ideas and innovations because they are used to social networking and sharing. They are not used to hierarchy. They like coworking and collaboration.
Another technique that may help you go through this phase is to create a rapport with the interviewer. Starting with a smile and later talking about some popular TV shows that you both like, at appropriate times, of course, may create positive interrelation. Try not to use phrases like “that’s part of my youth” or “I guess you were all young at that time”. These phrases can be a real disadvantage.
“I Don’t Fit in the New Generation and Lack Their Knowledge of Technology”
This is not a real problem! You definitely know how to use a computer and all the applications in connection with your profession. It might happen that you are not familiar with the latest updates, but that is something you can easily solve.
Technology hasn’t been implemented just recently. It has been present for more than 2 decades now and it is becoming more and more necessary. There is nothing you can do now without technology.
So it would be out of mind to claim that older people don’t know how to use technology. It is not about learning a brand new skill, it is about updating the existing one.
However, if there are areas of technology which you are not sure about, you can take a crash course, there are many of them online now and invest in your professional development.
Another way to prove that you have no issues with technology and that you are up to date is creating an online profile like Linkedin or social media like Facebook. By the way, is there anybody without a FB profile?
“ How will I cope with the change?”
There is a cliché created about older people and that they cannot adapt easily to a change. Having a new job is a challenge especially for people in their older years. But this is true only for those over 65, and by that time they will be retired.
If you are over 40 and think that your mental agility is declining, you are wrong. Although there are studies that claim that work-ability is declining as age is increasing, there are still theories that say our crystallized intelligence (knowledge, education, and experience) never deteriorate up until you get more than 65.
However, job resources (decision making and work significance) together with personal resources (resilience and desire) create a balanced relationship between work-ability and age.
In other words, experience, negotiation, and verbal skills, use of education, and emotional control are the benefits we get from the older workers although they may need some time to get used to the new environment.
Don’t get frustrated, it doesn’t mean you are losing it, it means you can be in control. Knowing the drawbacks doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you stronger.
Be careful with the interviewers not to give them evidence to support his theory of mental decline and inflexibility in older people. Be sure about the future company’s facts, and show you are updated. Maybe, this is the moment when you shouldn’t be modest.
“I Won’t Feel Comfortable with a Younger Supervisor.”
There are many studies that investigate the relationship between an older subordinate and a younger supervisor. Some studies show that older workers with younger supervisors develop negative emotions (like anger) than those with older supervisors.
It is very likely, if you look for a new job when you are over 40, you may come across a younger supervisor and you have to know how to deal with it.
First of all, you have to be aware that the relationship goes both ways. It means that younger supervisors may also feel uncomfortable to have someone older as a subordinate. It is like having your parents reporting to you. Unfortunately, this might put you in a situation to be rejected when in an interview even though you are the most qualified candidate.
However, age doesn’t always have to mean maturity, successful management, and professionalism. We assume that older people with more experience have mastered those skills, but it might also mean that talented young workers can prove to be as good.
In addition, they might have been promoted because of their technical skills and abilities and be bad at soft skills like leadership.
If you really want to leave this issue behind you and go on with the work, you have to learn a few tricks. Be respectful, she/he is still your boss. You don’t want to be in constant conflict. It decreases productivity.
Work on a positive relationship, as you are older, you must have gathered greater experience in building relationships. If your younger boss seeks for advice, be ready to help. It will build trust between you two.
Lauren Milligan, coach at ResuMAYDAY would say, “When older workers feel valued for their contributions, it doesn’t matter the age of the person providing the recognition.”
“Whatever I Do, I Look Old.”
Wrinkles on the face do not reveal your age. It’s the attitude and the way you cope with it. It is the spirit you carry inside of you. Clothes can help, but if you feel discharged of energy, tired and worn out, no clothes can make up for it.
However, if you raise your self-confidence and energy level, the modern, cool look can intensify the feeling of the inside and show them they talk to the right person.
However, you may work a little bit on your attitude or the way you look so you don’t look outdated. Of course, grey hair or old-fashioned clothes can have a negative impression when having an interview.
On the other hand, don’t try to be something you are not, too. Wearing teenage clothes can make you look very funny.
You should be professional, smart, and authentic. Some accessories, like modern glasses or a fashionable handbag, may give you the modern look you thrive for and prove that you can be part of the company’s contemporary spirit.
TO WRAP UP
There are many myths and truths about job searching after the age of 40. These range from pure stereotypes to well-established facts. This means that some people of this age group frequently face a variety of challenges.
The common reasoning goes from thinking that they are too old for a new job which leads to losing their hope and self-confidence to thinking they are less efficient and productive than the younger workers. And these are pure myths and self-inhibiting.
Some of them don’t believe they can go over the first obstacle (selection of resume), but if they learn a few tricks everything is possible.
It is thought that older workers can’t cope with the change and new technology, but actually, they can feel really comfortable with it and go through the process of adaptation smoothly.
Working for a younger supervisor may also be a problem, but that’s a problem that can be solved with a drop of respect from both sides.
The most important thing to bear in mind is not to give up. Search for solutions whenever you need them. Finding a new job is not impossible and it is never too late to do it.
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