By Monique Lung
Age is a delicate topic for job seekers. Both early-career and late-career professionals wrestle with a common fear that they do not fit with what today’s employers seek. But too often, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you don’t believe in your own talent and capability (due to age-related doubts or otherwise), the employer will not either. Rid yourself of any limiting beliefs and shift your focus, with confidence, to your unique offer to the employer. Whether you are “green” or “golden,” there is distinctive value at either end of the spectrum.
So, what is your age-related value-add?
Greens, you are a fresh canvas. You bring to the table exposure to current trends and technologies, your demographic’s perspective, and the ability to manage an aggressive bombardment of data and distractions. Kudos if you juggled school and work while remaining faithful to multiple social media platforms. You envision having social impact on humanitarian issues. You seek a mentor over a boss. You want personal and professional development. As companies become flatter, this self-governance is an asset. You have experiences in non-profit, hands-on volunteering, and/or studying abroad that serve you well when answering behavior-based interview questions. Additionally, having grown up with the Internet marketplace, you may already be merchants or entrepreneurs.
Goldens, this is not your first rodeo. Sell your accomplishments! Goldens bring an informed wisdom, a priceless compassion, and an understanding of the beauty, chaos, and insanity of humanity. You are the “go-to” generation. Your invaluable network of resources and loyal contacts is established and at your fingertips, a bonus to any employer. Seasoned at prioritizing and time management, you are the poster child for efficiency. You are a valuable mentor in the workplace. Goldens filter information, know how to strategize, and can quickly make bold, calculated decisions. Your track record tells employers a behavior-based what-you-see-is-what-you-get story.
Whether Green or Golden, here are five tips to improve your approach:
- Focus on areas of agreement. If you are a Green, identify how the role or employer aligns with your values, goals and interests; if you are a Golden, find similarities in your prior experience.
- Know your value. Prepare your value statement for interviews, your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and networking. If the right words elude you, take an assessment such as MBTI, Gallup StrengthsFinder 2.0, DiSC, Kolbe, etc. Goldens, you have become proficient at many things over the years in a way that many other candidates have not. Greens, you like becoming more self-aware and grew up in an era hyper-focused on ongoing professional development.
- Do your research. Study salaries and the demand in the area for your skills. Be realistic about your next chapter. Helpful websites: salary.com, payscale.com, glassdoor.com, careeronestop.org. Goldens, specific industries like Tech and Healthcare are in particular need for your expertise as a result of COVID-19.
- Confidence, the game-changer. (Worth another mention!) You must convey that YOU are the cat’s meow! The employer NEEDS you because you were born to be in that role, with that employer. If there is ANY hesitation, the interviewers will smell it. Take time to get super clear on what you want and waltz in with clarity.
- Respect one another. Alas, we are all dependent upon each other. The more we embrace that reality, the better our connections and outcomes will be.
Every generation offers a unique set of skills, abilities, and perspectives to potential employers. Whether Green or Golden, acknowledge and embrace your unique advantages, practice articulating your value, and step into your job search with confidence and conviction.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated to reflect the current job search realities and most up-to-date best practices.