July 11, 2012

Advice for “Experienced” Job Seekers

Let’s face it: if you’re an “experienced” job seeker, this means you’re often one of the older candidates – and being an older candidate can sometimes mean you make the person across from you very, very nervous.

Why? Well, he or she might think you’ll leave should you get an offer that’s more in line with your experience; they might worry that you don’t have the requisite skill set; they might be concerned that you won’t fit into the ‘vibe’ of the office; they might be nervous about being in charge of someone who is their senior.

Luckily, the script below addresses all their concerns.

Before we look at what to say, however, let’s look at when to say it: I recommend bringing it up at the outset of the interview (or during the “Do you have any questions for me?” portion of the programming.) The reason for this is they won’t want to bring it up themselves (they don’t want a lawsuit) but they’re definitely thinking it.

Once it’s on the table, I would say, “If I were sitting where you are sitting I would be wondering about whether or not my age is going to be a factor. I can tell you that I’m very committed to this company and this position (This addresses their concern about you leaving should you get a better offer) I have the requisite skill sets of a younger candidate (That takes care of that concern) plus I have the invaluable soft skills that come with having been in the working world for 30 years: I’m quick to build camaraderie with my colleagues; I understand the importance of a strong work ethic, and I’m discreet. (All of which offsets their concern about you fitting in with the ‘vibe’) Additionally, I’ve raised my family so you have my full attention.” (Bonus points for you!)

The other thing critical piece is to organize how you look and sound while you say this. If you sound defensive, or if your body language shrieks that you’re on high alert, this answer is not going to work. Keep it easy, keep it relaxed, keep it collegial. Breathe. Smile. Lean forward. Nod as you speak.

All of which reassures them that you’re already on the same team.

Frances Cole Jones

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