If you're entering the job market in mid-life for any reason—a layoff, a personal issue, a career reboot—it's natural to feel a little nervous about your prospects. During the recent economic slowdown and gradual recovery, media outlets have been dominated by stories about the struggles of baby boomers "competing" with entry-level candidates for a place at the table. If these stories are all you read or listen too, it's easy to see the job market as a grim environment for those in their 50s and 60s, especially those who don't have the energy to work 60-hour weeks for salaries at the bottom of the pay scale.
But here's a simple truth about the baby boomer job search: if you're in this category, you control your search, your attitude, and your own life plans, not the media or the rumor mill. Internet articles and broad statistics have nothing to do with your specific situation.
While you're keeping this in mind and forging your own path to your own destination, we're maintaining contact with hiring managers across multiple industries, and we've gathered some feedback on how these managers really feel about older job seekers. Their feedback reveals a few patterns.
1. Baby boomer candidates tend to be team players.
"I like older candidates because I can speak to them as equals, and I don't have to 'teach' them how to make sacrifices for the team or how to put the company first. Young people seem to struggle with this and they often need coaching when it comes to basics like sharing credit, sharing blame, or shaking off a team setback and moving on. All this time spent coaching and teaching is expensive. This isn't a school. This is a business."
2. Older workers see the big picture.
"Our business model is complex, and when new grads come on board, it sometimes takes years for the big picture to sink in. One young employee recently went on a rant against the government agency and taxpayers that actually fund his project and pay his salary—he just didn't see the connection. Experience solves this problem."
3. Older workers actually know what they're doing.
"Older workers speak with confidence and they write with confidence. And both of these are very reassuring to my clients. Young people try to copy this confident style, but when it's earned, it comes naturally."
4. Older workers aren't bewildered by social challenges.
"Older workers are expensive, yes. But they're worth it. They often step onboard with a lifetime of accumulated industry knowledge, and even better: they know how to engage with other people. They aren't learning how to navigate the social world for the first time while they also learn to navigate the world of work. I would say that interpersonal conflict is one of the biggest threats to productivity in our office, and greater levels of age diversity seem to dramatically reduce these conflicts."
Your Resume Highlights Your Leadership & Experience
Chances are, you're not competing with recent graduates for the same positions. Entry-level jobs and senior roles are not interchangeable. But as you use your resume to emphasize your aptitudes and technical experience, be sure to show off your leadership skills and hard-earned confidence as well. Your years in the workplace (and in life) are an asset, not a liability. Visit MyPerfectResume for guidelines and resume building tools that can help you stand out.