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- Top Job Search Articles of 2016
- Interview About Hiring Posted
- Why You Want to Hire Older People
- Many More Than Five Tips to Combating Ageism in Hiring, Summary
- Five Tips to Combating Ageism in Hiring, Part 3
- More Recent Articles
My friend and colleague, Jacob Share, puts together a list of the top job search articles each year. Yes, I have an article in there! See this ebook: The Top Job Search Articles of 2016. I hope you enjoy it!
This morning, I read For Economy, Aging Population Poses Double Whammy (registration required). If you don’t read the WSJ, here are some interesting takeaways:
On average, every 10% increase in the share of state’s population over the age of 60 reduced per capita growth in gross domestic product by 5.5%.
The authors note: “An older worker’s experience increases not only his own productivity but also the productivity of those who work with him.” All else equal, experienced workers are more productive. One study found that productivity peaks at age 50, when productivity is 60% higher than for the average 20 year old.
Notice this: Productivity peaks at age 50. 50!! (I actually know I am more productive now than I was 10 years ago. I bet there are people just like me, out there.)
In high tech, we love the shiny new object (people with a couple of years of experience). They are less expensive. They appear to know the latest, greatest thing (tools and technology). And, unless they are extremely mature, they do not have the perspective and emotional maturity that older people do.
If you want to increase productivity (throughput in software), hire older people who have been successful in previous roles. Here’s why:
- They know how to work, to finish their work.
- They have seen your problem or something like your problem before. They have experience that can help.
- They often know how to build connections between disparate people. (They build small-world networks.)
- They understand how to persevere through the difficult times. (All projects have difficult times where people feel as if they are slogging through the project.)
- They understand how to work with other people.
- They are adaptable. (Have you thought about how software has changed since the 70s and 80s? Wowie zowie.)
Not everyone has all these qualities in the same amount. And, if you dare look for people over 50 (and over 60), you will find enough of these qualities that you will find a great employee.
Look for and hire someone older. If you need to, negotiate on salary. Remember, money is just one component of compensation. But, don’t think that the eager-beaver 20-something is the only person who will help you increase your throughput.
Let me summarize what you can do if you are a person of a certain age—maybe just over 30—and you want to find a job.
Prepare for your search in these ways:
- Look relevant to hiring managers.
That means you will do whatever you need to do your resume:
- Keep the resume to 2 pages or less.
- Add technical skills for the ATS. (Yes, I know this seems crazy. Do it anyway.)
- Show your value, especially with numbers for each job.
- Develop and use a target network to find people who will talk with you.
With a target network, you will find people who like you, and jobs you like. Network online and in person. Discover where those people with jobs go for meetings.
- Showcase your qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills.
As an older person, you might not have exactly the technical skill combination a potential hiring manager thinks they need. Instead, show how fast you learn and adapt. Show how you coach and collaborate. Show how you finish work so the organization can ship product.
- Create and practice the stories of your career. How have you solved problems in the past? What can you apply from the past to the present and future?
During your search:
- Be someone people want to spend time with.
Look clean and neat. Make sure you are groomed properly. I am always surprised I need to say this, and I do. The older we are, the less forgiving people are about our appearance.
- Practice networking, in-person and online.
You must leave your house to meet people in person. Meeting people in person is best for developing your target network connections, directly or indirectly. Also, develop loose connections online, as well as in person. Add more people to your network each day.
- Develop your loose connections. You are more likely to find a job via a loose connection than with a direct connection. Encourage younger people to connect with you. Use their connections to reach people in your target network.
- Practice interviewing. The best interviews are conversations. Practice your “let’s meet for an informational interview” pitch. Practice telling the stories of your career so you can showcase your work to its best advantage.
Here are the parts to this series:
Five Tips to Combat Ageism in Hiring, Part 1
Five Tips to Combat Ageism in Hiring, Part 2
Five Tips to Combat Ageism in Hiring, Part 3
Read more in Manage Your Job Search.
The people in the hiring “sweet spot” have between two and 15 years of experience. Once you have more than 15 years of experience, you will experience some form of ageism. Learn to organize and prepare for your search, so you can find your next job fast.
In Part 1, I described your job search planning. In Part 2, I discussed what you can do to help your resume. In this part, I’ll talk about the interview.
Any candidate needs to prepare for the interview. If you are worried about ageism, consider these tips for these challenges:
- Specify your value, first to yourself, and craft interview answers. (Your first sale is always to yourself.) Why are you valuable to this organization?
- Be ready to answer questions about salary and promotions.
- Be ready to answer common questions even if they are irrelevant.
- Looks matter, so make sure you don’t look old.
- Prepare in advance to understand what your maturity brings to an organization.
Let’s start with your value and how you prepare to answer questions.
Everyone has stories of their career. Have you prepared yours? What do you want to highlight for your interviewers about your career? Areas you might consider:
- Answer a question with your value. Organizations hire people to solve problems. What problems does this organization have and how can you help solve them? You might ask that question, “What problems do you have now?” during a phone screen. Prepare to show how you solved problems like that in the past and how you can solve them for this organization. Refine your answer for the in-person interview, with more examples.
- How you start and finished work that led directly to an increase in revenue, customer satisfaction, or customer retention/acquisition? Managers want to know about this. You might hear a question that doesn’t sound as if it relates to those questions. If so, determine a way to answer those questions anyway. Here’s an example:
Question: Tell me about a time you worked on a successful project.
Answer: Let me tell you about this recent project. (Point to it on your resume.) I was part of the team to reduce the time required to release our product. I automated scripts for everyone to use. (Or, whatever you did.) I estimate the scripts saved us each an hour every day of work. That was five hours each day. Over the course of the project, I estimate it was 25 hours each week times 26 weeks, a total of 650 hours. We thought that allowed us to release the entire project faster—by at least two months. (You have done the math in advance. You are helping the interviewer see your value as you walk through the numbers.)
If you know the problems the organization needs to solve, can you address that directly with your value?
- Know what you want for salary. Everyone has unique needs and value to the organization. What is your minimum salary requirement as a direct employee? Are you willing to take a contract job (and add more money for you to self-fund your own benefits)? Do you want more vacation for a lower salary? What is this job worth to you and what value can you provide?
- Prepare your answers to the irrelevant questions. I have ranted about irrelevant questions in several posts. Start with the summary post, How You Answer Irrelevant Questions in an Interview, Part 3. Your job is not to answer the specific question. Your job is to present your qualifications and explain how you will solve problems for this organization. Regardless of how the interviewer asks the question. (Politicians do this all the time.)
- Make sure you look young. For me, this is asking about what people normally wear. I like to look as least as good as the people in the office, if not better. I am not a fan of jeans on an interview (unless they are black dress jeans). I don’t like open-toe shoes, and especially not sandals. However, I am not a fashionista, so you should listen to yourself and not me. I do want to interview people whose clothes fit, are clean, and not wrinkled. You can have gray hair as long as your clothes fit and are not dated back to the 70s. (or, even the 90s.)
- Prepare yourself in advance. Interviews are stressful for almost everyone. If you are prepared, you look more mature (as opposed to old). You are ready to present yourself in your best light. What does your maturity provide you? Is it about your ability to facilitate, collaborate, see the big picture, see the details, coach others, help people see where open source solutions might work, and more?
I’ll have a summary post next, suggesting how you can combat ageism in hiring.
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