Reverse age discrimination could hurt your chances at an interview. 5 things to consider about the younger worker

Amy, a colleague of mine who looks no older than 30, came to me to tell me of one of her recent meetings with a jobseeker and to give me some advice. In her rapid voice, she told me that she had just met with a mature male worker who treated her as though she were a child. She was outraged and rightfully so.

Hmmm, I thought, here it comes.

Amy is well revered by the staff at our career center and the customers with whom she meets. She knows a great deal about the job search and training, so being disregarded by this man rubbed her the wrong way. We sat and talked about her meeting with him and wondered aloud if this is how he presents himself at interviews to people younger than he. And if he does, what his chances of success in this job market are. Slim to none, we concurred.

Eventually she calmed down.

Her advice to me was to bring up this attitude toward younger interviewers at my Mature Worker workshop. (She told me three times.) I totally agreed with her and immediately made a change to the presentation slide: “Treat younger interviewers like you would like to be treated.” No, better.

We career advisors always come to the defense of mature workers who experience age discrimination; but we don’t talk as much about reverse age discrimination, such as what my Amy experienced. We are reluctant to tell people who are unemployed how the interviewer might feel about their rude behavior. But this is wrong of us.

Think about if you were on the opposite side of the table interviewing people for a position, where personality fit is as important as technical abilities. How would you react if a mature worker looked at you with disdain and without saying it, called you inexperienced and beneath his level? Further, what would you think if you were going to be his immediate supervisor?

Hiring him would not be a marriage made in heaven. You, as the hiring manager, would have to prove yourself to the, albeit highly qualified, candidate on a regular basis. He would question your every decision and tell you how “he” would do things. Any effort you would make to correct his actions or even reprimand him would be met with resistance. You would feel powerless. You’d be crazy to hire him.

Amy and I believe that the large majority of mature workers have a great deal of value to offer employers. They’re knowledgeable in their work and possess life experience that younger workers do not. They want to work and are flexible with their schedule. They’re dependable, able to mentor others, and are great role models. These are but a few qualities of the mature worker.

But there are a few mature workers who think they’re all that or who have a chip on their shoulder. They are convinced that they’ll experience age discrimination at every interview. In other words, they have lost the job before the interview begins.

Susan Jepson, director of the National Senior Network, wrote an article addressing reverse age discrimination practiced by mature workers. She believes that sometimes it’s not intentional, “Without intending to, or without knowing it, mature workers can come across as arrogant, condescending; that behavior can invite rejection. Examine your beliefs and assumptions and work hard to be open and communicative with your interviewer, without prejudice of any kind.”

Susan Jepson is a mature worker, so she speaks objectively.

If you happen to be one who intentionally discriminates against younger interviewers, remember that the person sitting across from you deserves as much respect as you do. Also keep in mind that your livelihood might depend on how much they value you as a potential employee. More specifically, remember:

She earned her job. Whether she has less experience on the job than you is irrelevant. Someone in the company determined that she was the most capable to manage a group of people. And yes, they could have been wrong.

Her job is to hire the best person. You are the best person, but if you show contempt or even hint to your superiority, she won’t see your talent through the less-than-desirable attitude you demonstrate.

She will appreciate your points of view. Once assured you’re not after her job, she may see you as a mentor and role model. Younger colleagues like the approval of mature workers. Take it from someone who supervised someone 20 years my senior; her approval meant a lot to me.

She might have some growing to do. And if you want to succeed, you’ll realize that people of all ages have some growing to do, including you. You can help her through this process by building her self-esteem and confidence. It’s a wonderful thing to see someone grow under your tutelage.

Whether you like it or not, she will be your boss. What are your options right now? Enough said.

You may arrive at interviews where age discrimination is blatant due to no fault of yours. This is the time when you are the bigger man/woman and leave with your pride intact, your head held high. The word humility comes to mind, as he who is humble can adapt to more demanding situations than he who is arrogant.

In the end, my colleague Amy told her customer that his behavior was unacceptable and would do him more harm than good; and he apologized, admitting his error. We are never too old to learn valuable lessons.

4 facts you probably don’t know about introverts at parties

large partyRecently I went to a birthday party for an acquaintance. When my wife and I agreed to go, I was psyched to have an evening out without kids. It would also be nice to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for a long time.

But as the night approached, I became anxious, thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to be surrounded by 30 or so people, most of whom I didn’t know. (I sort of felt like the photo to the right.)

This feeling persisted throughout the day and I seriously considered telling my wife I wasn’t going to attend. But as party time approached, my wife told me she didn’t want to stay too long because she wasn’t feeling too well. Ah excellent; an exit plan.

1. Entering a room full of strangers and having to introduce themselves to these people makes introverts uncomfortable. They would rather enter a room with people they know well.

It was no different for me when my wife and I found ourselves in a room full of strangers. So immediately I looked for people I knew. None present for those first long ten minutes. My wife and I stood speechless during the uncomfortable minutes. Where did the host say the beer was we wondered out loud.

At this point If I had the option to leave, I would have. But my wife, who is an extravert, is not the leaving kind; so I scanned the room looking for a familiar face, any familiar face. Alas a good friend entered the room. We made eye contact and she headed our way.

two people talking2. Finding allies will make acclimating to the party more bearable for introverts. Once they’re comfortable, they see promise in the party.

Soon after our friend arrived and I was more relaxed, I noticed a person I recognized and someone with whom I had somethings in common. I excused myself and made my way over to this person.

I had found an ally to associate with; not a large group to join and exchange stories or one-up each other with witty remarks. We settled comfortably on a couch to talk about my trip to Wisconsin and his work.

3. Deeper conversations, is the introvert’s preference while their counterpart prefers broader, more varied discussions. It’s how we roll.

The conversation between my ally and me turned into something philosophical about the economical ramifications soccer has on the world. We talked on and on for what seemed like hours. (That would be us to the left.)

My wife freed herself to check on me (her introvert) to see if I was having a good time. The look of reflection and concentration on my face–and the fact that my ally weren’t talking at the moment–must have worried her, but I assured her things were great. They were.

4. Leaving when it’s time is important to introverts. They don’t like to close the bar…unless they’re having a great time. Generally introverts prefer leaving earlier than others. It’s a matter of energy level.

So when my wife asked me if I was ready to leave, I feigned disappointment before telling her I was ready. At the moment I was engaged in a superficial conversation. Time had escaped me–it was now 11:30 pm–and I was happy that I didn’t get the 10:00 pm itch.

Many couples of opposite types will agree on a time to leave or, if there isn’t an agreement, arrive and leave in separate cars.

In the car my wife remarked that she and I hadn’t seen each other all night, which to me was fine. She could fill me in on all the gossip.

10 tips jobseekers must heed for a successful job search

And a short story about how my son didn’t listen.

The other day, my son and I were shooting hoops. He was loving it. I was hating it, for the mere fact that my fingers were numb from the cold. To add to my frustration, I was telling him to layup the ball with his opposite hand, but he wasn’t listening. “Why do I need to do layups with my left hand?” he asked me.

basketball

“Because you need to be multi-talented,” I told him. “You need to be able to layup the ball with your opposite hand when you’re forced to the left side.” I’ve never played organized basketball, so I’m not sure my advice was sound; but it sounded good.

While I was “coaching” my 14-year-old kid, I got to thinking about the advice I give jobseekers, most of whom listen and others (like my son) who don’t. The ones who listen are those who send me e-mail or even stop by the career center to tell me about their upcoming interviews or, best of all, their new jobs. It’s all about the effort they put into their job search that makes the difference. They do the hard work, while I simply provide the theory. Such as:

  1. Begin with proper attitude. All too often I hear negativity from my jobseekers. “I’ll never get hired because I’m over qualified.” Or, “There are no jobs out there.” Talk like this will get you nowhere, as I tell my customers. People are more likely to help people who appear positive, as opposed to negative. I’m not saying you must feel positive; I’m just saying appear positive. As the saying goes, “Fake it till you make it.”
  2. Your first impressions matter more than you think. First of all, are you dressed for the job search? What do you mean, you wonder. I mean you’re on stage every time you leave the house, so don’t walk around in clothes you’d wear while cutting the lawn. Always look people in the eyes while delivering a firm handshake that doesn’t crush their hand.
  3. Network, network, network. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. Be clear as to what you want to do and where you want to do it. Clearly explain your occupation (human resources vs. human services is a big difference), your greatest attributes, and your extensive experience. Whenever you talk with someone in your community and the opportunity arises, mention you’re between jobs. Attend jobseeker networking events to gain leads and provide leads; remember, networking is a two-way street.
  4. Penetrate the Hidden Job Market. Which coincidentally  has a great deal to do with networking. Look for jobs where most people aren’t. “Why?” as my son would ask me. Simple, employers gain a lot more from not advertising their positions than they do if they advertise. They prefer to promote from within or get referrals from trusted sources. Advertising comes with  a slew of problems–tons of résumés to read and interviewing strangers. What really frustrates me is when I ask my customers who they’re looking for work, and they list a slew of job boards…and that’s it.
  5. Approach growing companies. This will require gathering your Labor Market Information, which can be done in a number of ways. I suggest developing a list of companies for which you’d like to work and visit their websites to see if there’s growth. Growth equals possible hiring in the future. Sources like business journals, the stock market, networking in the community and at organized events, are all viable options. Once you know which companies are growing, send them an approach letter or call them to get within their walls.
  6. When applying for jobs: research, research, research. Always know the requirements for the jobs for which you apply. Which major skills are most important and can you speak of accomplishments of how you’ve demonstrated them. Know about the companies as well in terms of their products, services, mission statement, etc. This will come in handy when you write your résumé and other written marketing material, as well as when you interview.
  7. Market yourself with professional targeted résumés. DO NOT send a one-fits-all résumé that fails to show the love; rather tailor your résumés for each job. Your résumés should include relevant quantified accomplishments and a strong Performance Profile that makes the employer want to read on. Don’t limit accomplishments to the Work History; include some accomplishment statements in the Performance Profile…the better to get employers’ attention.
  8. Send a cover letter with each résumé, unless instructed not to. True, some recruiters do not read cover letters, but many do. And if your job will involve writing, you must send a well-written, and here we go again, targeted cover letter. A cover letter does a great job of demonstrating your enthusiasm for the job and company to which you’re applying. It also points the reader to the relevant accomplishments on your résumé.
  9. Start a LinkedIn, FaceBook, or Twitter networking campaign. Online networking should not replace face-to-face networking; rather it should supplement your networking efforts. I lean more toward LinkedIn as an online networking and branding site. It is for professionals looking for jobs and advancing their business. Your LinkedIn profile should be outstanding like your résumé. If not, don’t advertise it.
  10. Dribble with your left hand. Yesterday I had our networking group do an exercise that was intended to have them think of other ways to look for work, as most of them were probably using the same methods without success. If looking for jobs six hours a day on the Internet isn’t working, try networking, or contacting a recruiter, or reaching out to your alumni, or retraining, etc.

My son didn’t listen to me when I told him to layup with his opposite hand, despite my constant harping. But he’ll soon learn his lesson when it comes game time and defenders will force him to his left. And my customers will hopefully follow these ten tips in order to make their job search shorter.

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Need help with your LinkedIn profile, try stealing…not literally

stealing In Three Secrets to Writing Better, Erik Deckers, shares three bits of advice on how to become a better writer. They are: write everyday, read the newspaper, and my favorite steal from other writers’ styles. (I think what he really means is to learn from the best.)

If I could steal from a contemporary writer, it would be Joel Stein from Time magazineJoel writes with impunity (sometimes bashes Time), employs sarcasm and self-deprecation, and often mentions his family. He also wrote a book (Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity) on how he attempted to become more manly and, as you might guess, failed at his attempt.

While I wish to steal from Joel, Erik suggests writers like Earnest Hemmingway, Hunter S. Thompson, and Mike Royko, Chicago Daily News columnist from the 1980s. If I were to get all literary, I’d go with JD Salinger and Harper Lee.

What does stealing from great writers have to do with writing a LinkedIn profile? For those of you who are having a hard time writing your LinkedIn profile, allow me to suggest following Erik’s advice. Of course I don’t mean to literally steal from others’ profiles. I mean take a little journey on LinkedIn, targeting people who do what you do, and find profiles you admire.

Then emulate the styles of various profiles without plagiarizing–one of my connections was a victim of this.  This will take a little work, but it’s well worth it.

Summary section. When I started my LinkedIn profile, I used a connection’s Summary as an example. She is a professional résumé and LinkedIn profile writer and one of my valued connections. I liked the way she began her Summary with a general statement, followed by five areas of expertise, and concluding with her prediction of online résumés.

I have since changed my Summary to show more accomplishments in bullet format but still use paragraphs here and there. But I am grateful to my connection who started me on my way to writing a profile that speaks to my personality and accomplishments.

Employment section. This part of the profile can be a challenge for some. Again, look at what others in your occupation and industry have written in this section. Do they have a job summary followed by duties and accomplishments? Do they include only accomplishments? You might be in the dark about what content to include in your Employment section.

If you have no idea which duties to include for each job, I to begin by totally plagiarizing by doing the following: type http://www.onetcenter.org/, enter your occupation, copy and paste it to your profile, and edit from there using your own words.

Education section. And when it comes to Education? Do others list numerous Activities and Societies or Descriptions of what they did at their school/s? You might find this appealing, or if you want to keep it simple by stating the name of your school/s, that’s fine as well. (For activities, don’t write your were the beer bong champion of your fraternity.)

Branding Headline. I couldn’t neglect talking about stealing a Branding Headline. Again, pay attention to Headlines as you scroll down your Home Page, including content and nifty symbols (I’m fond of the vertical bar |, while others might prefer ►, ★, ✔, or other symbols ). Emulate the nature of the content you see, without blatantly stealing.

I know I’ll never reach the type of fame Joel Stein has gained–if not in my mind only–but I’ll continue to read his columns, laugh at his wit, and attempt a little farcical writing of my own. I think Erik is onto something here. Having read his book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself , coauthored by Kyle Lacy, I know he’s a funny and talented writer.

10 to ways act professionally in the job search

ProfessionalimsMy daughter recently had to defend her position when she was accused of something that she and I felt was unjust. Nonetheless, before she spoke to the principal, I told her to act professionally.

The look on her face was priceless. “How should I act professionally in this situation, Dad?” she asked. Exactly. How do you act professionally in a situation that is less than desirable? The best answer I could give my daughter was, “Do your best. Just do your best.”

This recent event prompted me to think of 10 ways act professionally in the job search:

  1. Treat people with respect. This is simple advice your mother gave you as a child. In your job search you’ll run into a helpful people and people who are…well putzes who think it’s all about them. Treat all of them with respect and work with the ones who treat you with respect.
  2. Resist the urge to only take and not give. The term “Pay it forward'” has real meaning. Create good karma by being a giver, understanding that the help you give others will be returned by someone else. One of my customers, who recently landed a job, was the epitome of a networker because of the leads she doled out like candy.
  3. Act positive. Having been unemployed myself, I understand the emotional ups and downs, as well as the financial burden, that go with being out of work. I’m not telling you to feel positive; I’m telling you to act positive. In other words fake it till you make it. Keep in mind that people feel more inclined to help those who appear positive.
  4. Dress the part. Put on the appearance of a professional by dressing properly, not like you’re heading to the beach. I can spot the jobseekers who aren’t fully into their job search by the way they dress, e.g., they wear tee-shirts instead of button-down shirts; yoga pants instead of dress pants or skirts. First appearances count; they really do.
  5. Be a student of the job search. I’ve witnessed those who understand the norms of the job search and those who don’t. The ones who do, dress appropriately, maintain a positive attitude (despite how they’re feeling inside), and follow proper etiquette. You are part of an organization called the Job Search.
  6. Be dedicated to your job search. I ask my workshop attendees how many hours a week they should dedicate to their job search. The ones who tell me what they think I want to hear say more than 40 hours. That might be a bit extreme, as there are other important things in your life, like family. I say 25-30 hours should suffice. Work smarter, not harder, as they say.
  7. Listen to constructive criticism. It is essential that you don’t get offended when someone critiques your “brilliant” résumé, interview performance, or networking etiquette. People generally want to help you in your job search. You’re not required to take their advice, but listen to what they have to say.
  8. Show up or call on time. In your case, it may be for the interview and appointments you’ve set up to meet with other jobseekers. The rule of never being late still applies. (Worse yet is forgetting entirely about an appointment, of which I’m guilty.) Call ahead if you’re going to be late, though. You might get some forgiveness.
  9. Realize the employer is not your enemy. Here’s the thing, the employer is only trying to hire the best person possible. Many hiring managers, HR, recruiters have been burned by hiring the wrong person—68% have done it at least once. Don’t create an adversary environment between you and the employer; you’ll lose.
  10. Follow up; always follow up. If you had a great meeting with a fellow jobseeker or you were granted an informational interview; always remember to respond with a thank you message and a call to action. Sometimes our meetings don’t warrant further action. Nonetheless, show your gratitude for the time the individual took to help you.

The story of my daughter turned out well–she was not at fault of what she was accused. I was proud of how my daughter handled the situation. She acted professionally and manged to create a positive atmosphere between her and the principal I, on the other hand, might not have done so well.

3 more ways LinkedIn is the perfect place to tell your story–part 2 of 2

LinkedIn-is-the-PerfectThe first part of this series began with a story of “The Perfect Place,” a spot beyond my childhood neighborhood that’s vivid in my memory. It was, as I describe it to my son, an oasis for the 10–or was it five–of us kids, where we often spent endless hours of our summer vacation doing the crazy things kids do.

This story is analogous to how we tell our story on LinkedIn. A successful job search includes your stories in your written and verbal communications–stories resonate with employers.

In part one of this two-part series I talked about how to tell your story on LinkedIn with your Photo and in Summary and Experience sections; but there are three more places you can tell your story.

Strut your stuff with Media. You don’t need to bring your portfolio–at least most of it–to the interview because recruiters and employers can see it on your profile. In your Summary, Experience, and Education sections, you can show off images, video, audio, presentations, and documents.

This is a feature more people should take advantage of, as it allows you to tell–no show–your story. The Media section replaced many of LinkedIn’s applications, including Answers; and while many were not in favor of the move, this section proved to be beneficial to people who want to display PowerPoint or Presi presentations, YouTube videos, and more.

You can tell your story through visual representation, which can be extremely effective. Take a look at one of my connections, Anton Brookes, who links to YouTube to strut his stuff. Although he doesn’t use Media–he uses Projects–it’s still a great example of how one tells his story using LinkedIn.

What are your interests? “What?” you say, “I don’t include my interests on my résumé.” That’s right, you don’t; but this isn’t your résumé, is it? Your profile is a networking document–albeit online–that needs to encourage people to get to know you better. You can achieve this goal by talking about yourself in the Interests section.

One of my contacts says he’s into sailing and hiking. In my Interests section I mention the fact that I coach soccer, that I spend far too much time on LinkedIn, and other personal things about me.

Another one of my connections uses the Interests section for SEO purposes by listing her services and accomplishments. This might be the smartest way to use your Interests section if you’re looking for work and trying to attract the attention of employers. Nonetheless she’s telling her story.

Note: When you click on a link in this section, you will be brought to a page where other people have the selected words on their profile. This is a neat way to connect with other LinkedIn members. Teaching the love of soccer to energetic youth is one of my interests. Go ahead and click on it.

Recommendations tell your story. Perhaps the best people to tell your story are those who supervised or worked with you. Their words carry more weight than your own when you’re looking for work. Request recommendations from those who supervised you to strengthen your story. And write recommendations for those you supervised to help them tell their story.

The Perfect Place will always be a fond memory and story I’ll continue to tell about how we sat and watched cows graze in the fields, climbed trees, and unsuccessfully tried to build a tree house–but had fun doing it. And, of course, I’ll always remember that wild dog who chased us for miles–or was it more like a quarter of a mile?

3 ways LinkedIn is the perfect place to tell your story–part 1 of 2

LinkedIn-is-the-PerfectMy son loves to hear a story I tell about the “Perfect Place,” an isolated area with climbing rocks and meadows that seemed to span for miles. He is taken by how 10 of my neighborhood friends–probably more like five–would journey to The Perfect Place and hang out to watch cows graze, climb trees, and how we once tried to build a tree house.

Then there was this time when we saw a wild dog and ran from it until we reached our homes miles away–more like a quarter of a mile. My son likes this part of the story the most.

What does my Perfect Place story have to do with the LinkedIn profile? Everything; LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to tell our story. If done right, it will capture the visitors’ attention and keep them on your profile. But done poorly, it will send them away.

Your photo is the first place to tell your story. I appreciate a person’s photo, especially one that is professionally done. Not a “selfie” like my daughter is constantly taking with my phone. Professional or business casual photos are acceptable as long as they contain only you. A nice head/shoulder shot helps me recognize my connections.

In addition, a photo tells visitors about a person’s character. It tells whether the person is sensitive and caring, serious, authoritative, friendly and outgoing, creative, reflective, etc. The eyes can say it all in many cases, or maybe it’s the wide grin. Note: I read that profiles with photos are 7 times MORE LIKELY to be viewed than those without.

Your story continues in the Summary. The LinkedIn profile Summary puts your story into words, and the limit on words–2,000 characters–isn’t all that restrictive. An interesting story is told in first person. While some prefer third person, most agree it makes the Summary seem stiff and unfriendly.

My workshop attendees ask me what constitutes a story, so I ask, “What is your passion? Tell me about your accomplishments. Where do you want your career to go? How do your combined skills contribute to your career? What is your philosophy? What are your greatest areas of strength?” These are just some of the topics you can discuss.

My Summary starts with: “When asked about my career, I tell people I 1) disseminate trending career search strategies that help people find work, and 2) I train LinkedIn members on how to take control of their online networking, thus improving their career search and business success. And for kicks I blog about the career search.”

Continue telling your story in the Experience section. Begin each job with a statement that describes your role or mission at that position. Why were you hired or promoted to the position? What makes you unique and better than the rest? Do you have a unique selling proposition (USP)? to state in the first paragraph?

I begin my story in my current position with a statement about my role: “I’m more than a workshop facilitator; I’m a career strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their career search. My goal is to provide the career center’s customers, as well as the staff, with the latest career-search strategies.”

These are just three places on your LinkedIn profile where you can tell your story. Although not as dramatic as the story I tell my son about the Perfect Place, your story will be authentic and keep your viewers on you profile. Read the next post that addresses the Media, Interests, and Recommendations sections.