If you are looking for work for the first time in a long time and finding it more difficult than before, you may be tempted to blame your age. Employers tell us that age, by itself, is usually not a concern for them. However, there are several traits that may piggy-back on getting older, which can and do reduce your desirability to employers. The good news is that they CAN be addressed, and successfully doing so will improve your job prospects:
Employers do not want to hire someone who looks like they are about to fall asleep, or collapse from exhaustion. Get enough sleep before an interview. Book interviews for the time of day when you feel your best; don’t agree to 9 AM. if you are not a morning person! Walk tall. Sit up straight. Move with energy, to the best of your ability. And know that the way you take care of yourself on a daily basis – proper diet, daily exercise, sufficient rest – will show through in your energy levels.
As we get older and the bright good looks of our youth begin to fade, we sometimes get the attitude that our appearance is not worth bothering about. It is! Make sure you don’t look unnecessarily old: have your hair styled, your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist, consider hair colour if you don’t like your grey. Update your wardrobe and wear well-fitting clothes to your interviews. Don’t neglect your hygiene. If you like makeup, wear it. The idea is not to try disguising yourself as a 30-year-old (which probably won’t work), but rather to express by your appearance that you take care of yourself. If you look like you value yourself, employers will too!
Those of us who have a lot of experience can sometimes start thinking that much younger people cannot possibly know what they are doing. This mindset is disastrous; it will come across in your interviews that you believe yourself to ‘know better’, and this is a big red flag. Employers do not want to bring someone on board who is set in their ways, inflexible, and will not graciously take direction. Cultivate the attitude of a ‘student of life’, and remember that we always have more we can learn from each other.
If you have worked a long time, you probably come with a high price tag, which will put employers off. To compete with younger people who may have more recent educational qualifications and want much less money, you may need to reconsider how much compensation to ask for. Consider lifestyle changes that might reduce your cost of living; or ask an employment counsellor whether further education might help you to justify your salary requirements.
You know that you’ve got a lot to offer an employer. Make sure you are not letting any of the factors listed above tarnish your first impression, and your true value will be certain to shine through.