A couple of weeks ago I received this question from a reader who is transitioning to a new career as a ‘mature’ jobseeker.
“…my question for you is how do I answer the subtle and no so subtle questions of age from prospective employers? I’ve already got one the remark’ aren’t you a little mature for the position.”
Before I share my answer, I recommend that if you are a mature job seeker, that you never ever initiate the age talk. It will come across as your issue or hang up, not theirs. Secondly, don’t assume that age is their issue with you. Even a clever way to bring age into the conversation may not diffuse uneasiness if the employer has an issue. Or uneasiness that you bought it up.
Here is my response to the reader. Again, this is an edited version of my response:
In regards to age, if you have opened the door on the age discussion, then it would be a problem. If any part of your CV or resume indicates more than 15 years, the question will come up. Job seekers often feel that everything he or she has ever done has to go on the resume. The last 10 years with the most relevance should go on your resume.
The other place that could show your age is education. If you have the year you graduated from high school on your resume, I recommend removing it, in fact, since you have a college degree, your high school diploma is no longer relevant.
Now, regarding the age inquiry, employers look for ways to exclude candidates in subtle ways. My take on it comes from a client a couple of years ago who had gray hair, over fifty, yet had a robust personality. Her energy was so infectious interviewers dared not ask about age. My point is to consider how you come across. You should have passion for your new degree, and you need to let that show at every opportunity.
Also, consider changing your energy level when you speak to employers over the phone, during interviews, and especially networking events and similar opportunities. It makes you appear younger without blackening the gray from your hair. Sound energetic, but not on steroids!
Let me ask you, do you get comments from your spouse, family, friends, or mentors that you come across “old?”
I too am mature, and at home my wife comments that I still listen to “old music.” Yet when people meet me at professional events, workshops, meetings and the like, I talk about my profession with infectious zeal and fervor.
Many of my readers are young people and are the most interactive in-person. Energy makes all of the difference in the world, and your presence should exude what employers want in an employee.
Is there advice that you would like to add? Please share below.