We have several candidates in the latter years of their working life that we assist at mexec who raise the concern of ageism when considering a job opportunity and preparing their application.
My advice is always to own your wealth of experience; don’t try to hide it. Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy when applying for roles by second-guessing what the employer is likely to focus on when they review our application. Unfortunately, there will always be some organisations that seem reticent to recruit an older cohort of workers for whatever reason. No, there is no list of such organisations! It is up to you, the candidate, to undertake the necessary due diligence about the organisation you seek to work with.
- Look for corporate structures and their Boards
- Review organisational information on job sites such as Glass Door and LinkedIn
- Discuss the organisation with your network for insights
Show your experience in your CV.
I am often surprised by candidates who want to play down their experience in their CVs.
- Whilst I’d recommend you still put the years on your academic qualifications (hiring managers can count, after all), there is no reason to put your qualifications on the front page; they can be placed after your experience.
- Do feel comfortable doing a career summary table of all your roles so they can ask you about any of them in your interview and include roughly the last 10-15 years in more detail.
- Use profile statements that emphasise the breadth and depth of your capabilities:
- Over 25 years of leading…
- Extensive experience in…
Types of roles
At the later stages of your career, you may still be gunning for the next promotion. Fantastic. Your CV and cover letter will clearly articulate why you are the right person for the role.
Suppose you are considering a step back in responsibility or a move to a part-time role but remain concerned that your experience will count against you. In that case, your cover letter is very important to explain why you are the best person for the role and why you wish to transition in responsibilities. Hiring someone for an organisation who wishes to take a step back is a great opportunity. As a newly instated CEO many years ago, I was fortunate to bring on an industry-experienced colleague who also became a great sounding board and mentor for me.
In moving to a Professional role in careers at a University when I was 59, I too, was uncertain if I would even get an interview. I articulated my reasons for change, what I could offer to the position and how I could complement the existing team’s capabilities. I was surprised to get an interview and be offered the role.
Celebrate the wealth of relevant experience you bring for whatever role you apply for next.