Dear Working Wise:
I am a healthy experienced professional engineer, but I can’t find a job. The problem seems to be that I am over 60. How can I get employers to open their eyes and see what I have to offer?
Signed, Energetic Engineer
Employers cannot afford to ignore older workers. Nearly 40 per cent of Alberta’s workforce is over 45 and their numbers are growing.
In fact, some beliefs about aging can actually give you an advantage when you are applying for work.
Many human-resource professionals believe older workers are reliable, committed to their jobs and have a strong work ethic.
Still, there may be times when you have to convince employers that some negative beliefs about aging don’t apply to you.
Here are some tips to help revitalize your job search.
Get the interview—Employers use resumés and application forms to screen job applications.
Don’t make it easy for them to guess your age. If you earned a credential a long time ago, let employers know you have that qualification but leave out the date you earned it and only include your more recent and relevant work experience, e.g., the last 20 years.
Get the wardrobe and attitude—First impressions are extremely important in job interviews.
Make sure you look energetic, confident and up-to-date.
Your clothing, shoes, grooming, and energy level say a great deal about you.
Be enthusiastic about your work.
Talk about your interest in new techniques and technologies.
Describe situations where you have successfully taken informed risks.
Get the job—Try to address the employer’s concerns indirectly.
Although employers may have concerns about your age, human rights law prohibits them from asking about it.
You can let employers know their fears are unfounded in many ways, including:
• Provide evidence that you are a productive worker;
• Talk about your performance record and any formal recognition you have received;
• If the job is physically demanding, discuss similar physically challenging tasks you have recently completed;
• Provide examples of how you have learned to worker smarter over the years;
• Let the employer know that you are keen to learn new skills and talk about the new skills you have recently learned;
• Emphasize your commitment to your career and your excellent attendance record;
• Stress your teamwork skills by mentioning times when you have worked very well with people younger than yourself.
You have a lot going for you.
All you have to do is help interviewers look past the grey hairs and see the energetic, experienced go-getter sitting in front of them.
For more ideas, the Alberta Learning Information Service web site (alis.alberta.ca) offers helpful publications for employers and mature workers, including:
• A Guide for Midlife Career Moves
• A Guide to Managing an Aging Workforce
For help with your job search:
• Call the Career Information Hotline at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266
• Visit your local Alberta Works Centre: humanservices.alberta.ca/offices
Special job-search programs for older workers are available in some rural Alberta communities.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services.