Written by Gary Matsuda
Try out for a team sport, and you’ll need to meet or surpass minimum performance requirements to get on the roster. If you’ve got the talent, you’ll make the team look good and you’re a shoo-in to make the squad. However, in the job search, meeting the qualifications and having more doesn’t mean you’ll look better on paper.
A hiring manager or recruiter will almost never tell you the truth about why you were rejected for a job, especially if you are an older candidate. So, we brought in Abby Kohut, who for the past 25 years has held corporate recruiting positions and helped 10,000 people get hired. She’s got some impressive creds too. Among them is her website, Absolutelyabby.com which was selected as one of the top 100 websites for your career by Forbes.
As an independent career coach, Abby can say the things that HR really doesn’t want to (or can’t) tell you. For many of us it could simply be ageism, but the reason for job rejection could mean something else. But as Abby defines it, older really is better and she changes our job search situation from ‘Over-Qualified’ to ‘Absolutely Qualified’.
What does ‘Over-qualified’ mean?
• Too much experience
• Title too high
• Too much education
• High salary requirements
But why are these concerns? It’s because hiring managers fear:
• You will have a ‘been there, done that attitude’
• You will leave for a higher salary or title
• Your coworkers and manager may feel threatened by your skills or experience
• You may want to be promoted too fast
• You could find another job that pays better
All these are valid concerns for an employer trying to keep harmony in the organization. So instead of letting these concerns fester, you’ll need to be proactive and do some serious self-examination to find strengths that can be valuable to any organization. Such as:
• Shorter learning curve
• Dependable loyal nature
• Proven track record of success
• Strong work ethic
• Strong problem solving
• Broad range of experience
• Works with different personalities
• Role model for others
Your ‘Absolutely Qualified’ Resume
As with all advice from career experts, their opinions certainly come from years of experience but take what tips will work for you but be flexible with what you use. Try these out and see what works for you and for specific industries and demographics.
Years of experience. Should you list them? Yes but generally no more than 15 and write preferably avoid exact number, for example ‘3+ years’, ‘5+ years’.
College graduation dates. You can mention graduation dates if they are more recent, say you went back for a master’s degree later in life (and assuming it could be a requirement for the position). But generally leave them off.
Advanced degrees. If you have advanced degrees which may not be necessary for the job you are applying for, leave them out to avoid overkill. Don’t worry, extra degrees won’t be found in background checks if you don’t mention them.
Direct reports. Omit exact number of direct reports, especially if the job has few or no direct reports. Instead, like years of experience you can say that you managed a team or managed a department without the number.
Old looking email accounts. Try to avoid using AOL or Yahoo email accounts as they do look dated. Instead get Outlook, Gmail or your even better, get your own domain.
Objectives and references available. Instead of ‘objective’, use summary section. No need to say references available on request since it’s assumed you have them, especially if you have experience.
Your ‘Absolutely Qualified’ Cover Letter
These are still useful, even in the age of ATS. Have them ready but send them to those ATS that ask for them. If you send them to the right people (HR) they should also be addressed to those who will be doing the hiring. In addition, use a cover letter where applicable because this is where you can show writing skills, professional insights and detail your value. Write how you are a good catch and why you do what you do.
Years of experience. Avoid mentioning number of years’ experience, if it is to be mentioned, include it on the resume.
The pay. Specify salary requirements (if it’s lower than your previous pay) in cover letter if you are overqualified. Get that out of the way so you’ll prime them into knowing you’ll fit right in.
For Abby’s cover letter template, email ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
Your ‘Absolutely Qualified’ Interview
If you get an interview, be confident they believe you have the capability to fill the role and are taking your candidacy seriously. Congratulations!
Expect someone younger. Many recruiters/interviewers you may meet are just starting out and despite their inexperience, are a gateway to your career. Impress but don’t intimidate.
Dress code. Find out from the recruiter how you should dress, they can provide inside information to the culture so you can look your best. They called you for the interview, so they want you to succeed.
Check your ego. Again, use your wisdom and workplace relationship building skills not to overpower the interviewer but to make them feel in control.
Demonstrate your energy. Don’t just let your resume speak for itself. While face to face work into the conversation your physically active activities.
Demonstrate technology aptitude
Please keep up to date and be comfortable with current technology, like video conferencing and mobile tech. If you’re a luddite, Abby says this might help: try visibly carrying an IPad. You don’t need to use it, just show it!
Explain why you are interested in the position, tell ‘here’s why I do what I do’. If the question of why you are willing to take a position lower than your previous jobs, one thing to say is that you want to be more hands on without the responsibility of managing people. Some people actually like being an individual contributor. Or that you can afford to take a pay cut and have made enough money already.
Once they see your experience, qualifications and (gasp) your age, it’s best that you work into the conversation how you’ve nothing to worry about regarding health issues, pay, energy, use of technology, and retirement. Show that you’re definitely not on your last legs, and not here for your last rodeo.
Abby likes the use of thoughtfully applied clever comebacks. If you sense you’re getting rejected because of your ‘over-qualification’, you might try a Hail Mary comeback something like this: “If you were having open heart surgery, would you prefer a qualified surgeon or an over-qualified one?”
For more tips, go to Abby’s website, www.absolutelyabby.com.
Robie Rankins, Talent Acquisition Partner
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Robin Ersland, Talent Acquisition Marketing Specialist
Instead of working to sustain the Earth, if you would rather focus on sustaining human health, look to Honor Health. With locations that cover the entire Phoenix area, there’s a location close to you in both clinical or non-clinical settings.
Find hundreds of career opportunities by various professional categories on https://www.honorhealth.com/jobs
The Entrepreneur’s Source
Anna Schulman Brambilla, Career Ownership Coach
Transitioning (or have been transitioned) out of your job and looking for something completely different? Consider owning a franchise. Even without small business experience, you can go into business for yourself! So, whether you want to see what you’re made of or you want to make something of yourself, growing a business could be the most personally rewarding path for you. While the work can be harder than you’ve ever experienced before, so many franchise owners say it’s worth it.
Ready-made for you are proven business models and systems that you’ll have to learn, implement and execute so that you’ll be in business for yourself but not by yourself.
For more information and to see if owning a business is right for you, contact
Anna at https://abrambilla.esourcecoach.com/
Financial Tips for Career Transition
LPL Financial, Jian Boldi
Money is often a primary concern when you’re in career transition. Jian gave a few tips to help with money management.
1) File for unemployment as soon as possible. It can take a few weeks to actually see the checks come in.
2) Don’t forget to pay your taxes.
3) Deduct job hunting expenses. That includes expenses for resume printing, travel to interviews, moving expenses.
4) Go back to school to advance your skills.
5) Become under-employed.
6) Budget, then budget and budget some more.
7) For over 55 but under 59 ½ can take penalty free withdrawals.
8) Get health insurance.
9) Consider reversing a contribution made to your IRA.
10) Ask for help – from a friend or at a networking vent like Career Connectors.
For more details, on these tips, you can ask Jian for help:
3910 S Alma School Rd Ste. 8
Chandler AZ 85248