The advantage of experience

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2008-03-13 Print this article Print

Older workers also have the unquestionable advantage of experience, and knowing their own limitations better.  

"More experienced workers are going to understand the nuances of their responsibilities more than younger workers. They're going to have a better idea how to meet people where they are and be more experienced in negotiating with difficult partners.

They can leverage their experience building relationships," Julie Zinn, executive director of project management and business skills development at ESI International, a global training firm. Selling this self-awareness to an interviewer shouldn't be difficult.

"When you know your strengths and weakness, you can collaborate better with others and build teams that capitalize on your strength," said Zinn. 

Know What to Play Down

As important as knowing your selling points is knowing what information to take focus off us, such as gaps in employment, several career paths or resume items that will play up a senior age.

Recruiters advise older IT job seekers not to advertise expertise in out-of-date technologies.

The IT industry is bracing for a recession. Click here to read more.

"If you've only been and still are only a [Windows] NT pro, shame on you for not updating," said Lanzalotto.

"However, if you are, you should position yourself as a skilled IT resource working in a customer support environment. Make sure they know that you know how this stuff gets done."

Referencing all 12 or 20 jobs one has had in their career is also ill-advised, say workplace experts, not suggesting that it should be hidden, but that it is more important to get the most relevant and impressive experience to the top of a resume.

"Don't show every bit of experience that you have. Get yourself in the door, land the interview. Show that you know your stuff and show enthusiasm, something that is so often missing from interactions," said Lappin. 

Know How to Adapt to the Current Market

If you haven't sent out a resume in 12 years, you might not know not to send one in paper-and-envelope format. You also might be leaning on outdated notions of networking. Though networking is as big as ever, it is rarely done through group organizations and largely launched online these days.

"You don't need a support organization, you need a job. You'll get that by shoe leather networking," said Lanzalotto.

"Work off a relationship you already have. Don't send a recruiter an unsolicited e-mail-let them get it from someone else they know who wants to help you out. They'll be more likely to respond to Mary XYZ who asked them to give you a call."

If you've been out of work for some time, either because you had prematurely retired and changed your mind or because you have had trouble getting back in the game after a layoff, it may have taken a toll on your confidence, making the job hunt more daunting.

"You're going to get dealt roadblocks in any career and you overcome them not by wallowing in self-pity but by looking at ways to keep yourself relevant. If you've got a lot of experience, you've got to find the organization that will benefit from that," said Lanzalotto.



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