Too Old? Not!

I know a woman who recently lost her job though a reduction in force. In our conversation she said, “I’m 60 years old! Do you know how hard it will be for me to find a job!”

The answer is yes … and no. I won’t lie. Age discrimination, while illegal, is common. But not everyone discriminates, and those that don’t can hire some true gems.

“Too old” may translate to “over qualified” and either those may lead to the assumption that your salary expectations are “too much.” Often those late in their career are interested in taking a smaller job that is less stressful and allows them to focus on tasks that they enjoy. They recognize that this smaller job will come with a smaller paycheck, and that’s okay with them. Others aren’t ready to step back and want to push to replace the job they just left. You need to know which one you are, because the strategies are very different.

If you are interested/willing/able to take a smaller job, try these:

  • “Yes, I have more experience that you are looking for, but here is why I am looking for a job at this level…”
  • “With my additional experience I will need less training and can bring more value to your operation quickly. You can use me to mentor some of your less experienced workers.”
  • “In addition to performing the duties of the job you’ve described, I may also be able to help you in these ways…”

If you are not interested/able to take a smaller job, then don’t apply for them unless it is for the interview experience – and don’t be upset when you don’t get them. Please don’t lie and feign interest and then keep looking for the job you really want. That has negative effects on everyone, including you.

If you are over 55 and in the job market it will probably take you longer to find a job. On the other hand, you may have a larger network already established. The process is the same; make a plan, build your network, and tell your story. The good news is that you probably have a better story to tell.


If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.

On Being Overqualified …

Has anyone ever told you that you were “overqualified”?  Have you used that phrase to eliminate a job applicant?  What does overqualified really mean?

I see both sides of the “overqualified” debate.  The basic premise is that if you have a candidate with significantly more experience than is required by the position that you are recruiting for, that candidate will not be happy in the job and will leave as soon as she finds a job more closely aligned with her experience.  Then you are forced to start the recruiting process all over again.  While I understand that argument, I’m not sure it is always holds water.

But how does this apply to the job seeker?  When you are trying to find a job and you are the one that is overqualified, what do you do?

Well, you could dumb down your resume, scale back your accomplishments and leave off some of your earlier jobs to that your age and/or experience does not jump off the page.   You could understate your salary requirements in the hope of negotiating the salary up after they’ve fallen in love with you.  But those things aren’t really my style.

First you need to be honest with yourself.  Is this a job you really want?  Are you willing to take that big of step back in your career progression?  Can you afford to live on that salary?  If you can’t say yes to these questions don’t apply for the job.  You won’t feel good about it and you’ll be wasting everyone’s time.

Next, look hard at the job and the company.  I’m a big fan of being ‘open-kimono’ – what you see is what you get.  Are there advantages to this smaller job? Will you be able to work fewer hours and get your work/life balance back in balance?  Will this job be less stressful and maybe healthier?  Does this company offer better or different benefits that may offset some reduction in salary?  Are you attracted to the mission/vision of the company – would you feel good working there?

If you can answer yes to these questions, go for it with your kimono open.  Tell the hiring manager the truth – that you probably do have more experience than they are looking for – but it is a win-win situation.  They will get a worker that does not need as much training and who brings extra skills to the table.  You will get a job that answers the questions we just talked about.

If you can all look objectively at the situation and be honest with yourself, being overqualified can be a blessing.