Tips for Job Seekers 45 and Older
Tips for Working a Job Fair Successfully
by Operation A.B.L.E. President and CEO Joan Cirillo
Come professionally dressed
Bring plenty of resumes. Some companies will accept them and some won’t. Some will ask you to apply online.
Pay special attention to good grooming (mints for breath, comfortable clothes that “breathe”, no spicy food, etc.)
Try to get the list of companies ahead of time and circle the companies that you are particularly interested in; those are the ones that you should attend first while you’re fresh!
Research the companies that you are interested in and identify positions that fit your skills and interests
Approach the company booths, introduce yourself and briefly explain why you think you are an excellent match for a particular job opening that the company has listed. If there is a “referral number,” use it.
Take a business card if available. It really helps when following up.
Follow up! Make sure you do exactly what the HR recruiter asked you to do. Follow directions! It can make the difference between getting your resume seen or not seen. If you have a business card, send a brief note telling him/her that you are very excited about the position that you discussed and that you are sending your application/resume electronically as you were asked to do.
Continue to follow up as best you can.
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Top Ten Most Common Resume Mistakes
by Operation A.B.L.E. President and CEO Joan Cirillo
- Listing dates for your education when you don’t need to. Attorneys, professors and medical personnel do need to list degrees and dates. Often, dates “date” you and you are prescreened out.
- Listing your high school diploma. Today, it is assumed that you have a high school diploma or the equivalent. It will call attention to credentials that you do not have.
- Omitting an objective. In today’s world of desktop publishing, it is so easy to tailor your objective to what the job description is asking for. You do not want to be screened out because the reader cannot figure out what job you are applying for.
- Omitting a Qualifications Statement. Here is an opportunity to grab the reader’s interest with how eminently qualified you are for the position listed. Tailor the Qualifications Statement with relevant experiences that will demonstrate how qualified you are for the position.
- Listing dates on the left instead of on the right, particularly for the mature worker. This causes the reader to focus on dates of employment instead of your rich work experience and companies worked for.
- Trying to cram too much on one sheet of paper. Because someone told you that employers want to see only one-page resumes. A teenager or young adult might be able to get everything on one piece of paper. Mature workers with rich work backgrounds cannot and it does a disservice to them to try. Using a 10 font with little white space makes it very difficult to read and consequently, it might get tossed. However, unless you are applying for a lawyer, professor or doctor’s position, limit your resume to two pages.
- Omitting your name and page 2 from the top of the second sheet of your resume. You should not use staples and if the second sheet gets separated from the first sheet, the reader will have a hard time putting it back together. Remember, the more reader-friendly you are, the better.
- Assuming one resume will cover all bases. Today, you must tailor your resume for each job that you apply for. Pull out the most relevant experiences for that job.
- Using a chronological resume for a job that you know you can do but have never done. Chronological resumes work great for work in the same field or nearly the same field. Functional resumes work best when you are in career transition and need to showcase that you have the skills sets/competencies to do the job.
- Listing incorrect dates of work or education on the resume. Assume it will be checked at one point or another. List years, not months, in general. Otherwise, the resume looks very busy.
- Bonus Using too many fonts, bold, italics or underlining on a resume It makes a hard copy resume look too busy and it makes an electronic one almost impossible to read.
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Acing The Interview
You have worked hard to get a job interview and want to make sure you ace it. Here are some tips to do just that!
Before the Interview
- Do your research on the company! Make sure you know what products and services are made at the company. If a publically-traded company, its Annual Report will be on line. Review it carefully. Review your contact list and see if anyone you know works there. Use social media, particularly LinkedIn, to see if you can find anyone you know who presently works at the company and can give you some insights about what is happening in the company right now. Have a good sense about whether the company is making a profit or is in the red at the moment. Find out if this is temporary or it seems to be a trend for the last few years.
- Review your resume. Make sure you know the sequence of jobs so that you can discuss them on the interview.
- Be sure you can respond to the age-old question, Why Don’t You Tell Me About Yourself… Practice, practice, practice this piece so that it is smooth and rolls off your tongue.
- Think of at least three accomplishments that you can discuss on the interview. A good way to discuss accomplishments is using a PAR statement. Discuss the Problem that you faced, the Action that you took as a result of the problem, and what was the Result because you did take action.
- Know how to get to the interview. Nothing is more stress-producing than realizing that you weren’t right about the location and you have five minutes to get to the right place or you will be late—a real no-no!
- Watch what you eat the night before. Avoid any spicy or garlicky food that could remain with you overnight. It can be a real deal breaker.
- Dress up to date. Make sure you are perfectly groomed.
- Have at least five to six questions prepared that you would like to ask the interviewer.
- Have three references listed on a sheet that you have in your briefcase. Pull it out only if the interviewer asks for it.
During the Interview
- Smile a lot and maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.
- Remember, this is a two-way conversation. Listen to what the interviewer is saying and respond. Ask questions if you need clarification. If you have something that you want to add to the conversation that is relevant, do so.
- Speak crisply and succinctly. Use business language.
- Take notes.
- Speak with enthusiasm about your accomplishments. If you’re not excited about them, how will the interviewer get excited. Lean forward slightly to show enthusiasm.
- Keep your hands in your lap. Do not rock back on your chair. No hair twirling!
- Look for cues that the interviewer is wrapping up. It can be as obvious as s/he straightening his/her papers.
- Ask for a business card before you leave. It makes thanking the interviewer so much easier.
- Tell the interviewer if you are really interested in the job.
- Ask about next steps in the process. This will help you manage your stress level. If the interviewer tells you that s/he has just started the process, you know that it may be one to two weeks before you hear anything from the company.
- Shake hands as you leave the interview and thank him/her for their time.
After the Interview
- When you get to your car or the MBTA, think about all the questions that you know you answered well and those that stumped you. Get help with the difficult questions in case they crop up again in another interview.
- Send a thank you note that day to the interviewer. It can be electronic or hard copy. It can be hand-written or typed. Remind the interviewer of some of your best skills and why they are important for that particular job.
- Follow up. If you have not heard anything in five business days, call and see where the interviewer is in the process.
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Job Hunting TIPS for Job Seekers 45 and Older Re-entering the Job Market
from Operation A.B.L.E. of Greater Boston
- Do your homework. Think about what you need financially. Think about what you would like to do. Think about your skill sets. Research your options thoroughly. Learn what industries are hiring.
- See a career counselor to help you sort out your options. Determine whether you need retraining to be more employable.
- Acquire the skills you need to be more competitive in the job market. Remember to get not just technical retraining, but effective job search skills retraining as well. If you haven’t job searched in several years, there are many new techniques which you should be aware of (using social media as a tool, applying online, sending resumes as attachments or within the text, using different job boards, etc.).
- Network with everyone! Be specific about what you are looking for. Have business cards made so people can contact you if they hear of a job that is appropriate for you.
- Volunteer/Be an intern! Both might lead you to paid work and a current reference.
- Be open to all different possibilities. For example, some mature workers are employing a portfolio of work. They may work two days at one company and three at another. Some have decided to transition out of their old occupation into something new. Others are volunteering but receive some kind of stipend for their time. Some are temping and trying out new corporate cultures and industries while building their skills and experiences. Others have started new businesses as consultants. There are many possibilities.
- Demonstrate superb job search techniques. Mature workers have to do what everyone else does, but better! Use every job source available to you (hard copies of job postings, job search on the internet, newspaper ads, job fairs, networking, networking, and more networking, etc.)
- Be prepared to provide several examples of how you demonstrated flexibility and adaptability on the job. Weave these examples into your interview if not asked specifically. (The perception is that mature workers are not flexible.)
- Provide examples of how you recently learned new skills. For example, if you have just learned a new software package, mention it on the interview. (The perception is that older workers cannot learn new skills.)
- Make sure you have updated computer skills. Know the basics well. Learn how to conduct a job search on the internet as well as on paper. If you have email, put it on your resume. List your computer software applications as part of your skill summary. Understand how to use Microsoft Outlook. Companies don’t want to take the time to teach you. (The perception is that mature workers are not as technologically up to date.)
- Use crisp, concise business language in your cover letters, thank you notes, networking calls and interviews. Prepare a brief statement that will respond to the interviewer’s request “to tell me about yourself.” (The perception of many senior managers is that older workers tend to ramble.)
- Indicate how comfortable you are working with all age groups. For example, you might say, “I’ve worked with all different age groups during my career and I think it makes for a more diverse and interesting work force.”
- Weave into the interview how active you are and that you enjoy good health. For example, when asked what you have been doing since you were laid off, you might answer, “one of my accomplishments that I’m most proud of is that I painted the exterior of the house. It has needed it for years but I never had the time.” Another way to handle it is to say, “I’m in very good health. I haven’t missed a day of work because of illness in the last two years.” (The perception is that mature workers are sicker than other age groups.)
- If applicable, mention that you would welcome an opportunity to work in a fast-paced environment and that you are a “pro” at multi-tasking. Let the interviewer know that you are used to talking to someone on the telephone, looking for something in a drawer and helping someone in your office all at the same time. Tell them that these are the very things that make the job exciting. (The perception is that mature workers do not like a fast-paced environment.)
- On resumes, put dates on the right, do not list dates of graduation unless you are applying for a professor, doctor or lawyer’s position, and use a qualifications summary—you’ve earned the right to do so!
- Speak with enthusiasm and good energy.
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