Kerry Hannon is the AARP Jobs Expert and the author of What’s Next?: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … And Pays the Bills. She shared her advice for FlexJobs readers on how career changers can work well with a younger boss.
Get Comfortable with Technology
You may already be a prolific texter, but if you’re not yet, start getting comfortable using text to communicate. Says Hannon, “A younger manager will probably want to communicate with you via text message, instant messenger, or emails rather than face-to-face chats or the phone. Voice messages are rarely even listened to from my experience.”
“It’s up to you to get on their program. No doubt you have a smartphone, but if you don’t, get one pronto. If you don’t have core technical skills, check out your local libraries, community colleges, and other venues where training is offered. Better yet, ask someone younger than you to spend a few hours giving you a tutorial; say, one of your kids or grandkids, nephews or nieces, the teenager who lives down the block,” Hannon advises.
Learn All About Web-Based Meetings
Even if you’re not working from home, web-based meetings are how a lot of teams, especially those with younger managers, operate. Hannon suggests learning more about web-based meeting programs like GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Join.me, TeamViewer, or Google+ Hangouts. Some of these are either free or offer a 30-day free trial—plenty of time to get acquainted with their general functionality.
If you’re still looking for a job in your new career, Hannon recommends practicing video job interviews. “I recently practiced Skyping with my 52-year-old brother to prep him for his first video interview. He had never been on Skype before. It was lots of fun, and he aced the interview. But I had to coach him on where to place his laptop, where to look at the camera—not down at the screen—and to clear out the background and so forth.”
Job Interviews with Younger Managers
When interviewing with a younger manager, Hannon recommends the following tips:
- Show your tech skills. “If you’ve recently updated any software certifications, or you are proficient in social media, let them know, even if that’s a side comment in your discussion. Toss it out there.”
- Change your mindset. “It helps if you psychologically approach the interview as if you’re a highly paid consultant called in to troubleshoot. Think like an expert. If you’re desperate and thinking, ‘I just need a job and want to make money for the next 10 years,’ employers are on to you. They are going to pick the best, most interested, most innovative candidate.”
- Articulate your value. “State clearly what you think needs to be done and why, based on your experience, you’re the one to do it. In a nutshell: focus on the company’s needs, not yours.”
- Be short and sweet. “Steer clear of lengthy resume regurgitation. Answer questions with crisp, dignified responses. Be clear in interviews that if an employer put you in those situations, you will perform.”
- Don’t make “old” jokes. “Don’t even joke about gray hairs or a creaky back. Don’t remind folks how things were handled back in the day, even if you are being flip. Watch out for age-centric comments. Avoid mentioning that something the interviewer is doing is similar to something your adult children do, or bringing up what you were doing when you were their age. And watch out for sharing too much about your personal life that dates you.”
Don’t Forget to LOOK the Part
It’s one thing to have great answers to interview questions or to know the latest technology and be comfortable using it. But looking the part is also important. “Dress with an eye toward a vibrant, youthful appearance. You might consider a mini-makeover. You don’t necessarily need to dye your hair to get out the gray, or spring for a chemical peel for your face, or Botox, but by all means do if it makes you feel more confident.”
“There are, however, things you can do to have a more youthful glow. If you aren’t physically fit, for instance, make that a priority and eat healthy. Consider a style makeover. Spruce up your wardrobe and hair to give it an updated fresh look. There are free personal shoppers available at many department stores to help. Or you can also ask friends for tips,” advises Hannon.
Use the Resources Available to You
As AARP’s jobs expert, Hannon recommends Life Reimagined for Work. The site offers a trove of resources for job seekers, career switchers, and anyone who has an itch to start their own businesses. You’ll also want to check out AARP’s 2013 Best Employers for Workers Over 50 list, whose companies and organizations value an experienced workforce.
Additionally, FlexJobs uses the AARP accolade to mark employers on AARP’s list that offer flexible jobs. See the latest flexible and telecommuting jobs posted by companies in AARP’s Best Employers list.
Finally, look for jobs and opportunities that leverage experience. Check out job websites likeEncore.org and RetiredBrains.com to get a flavor for what others are doing and what jobs are out there now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook is a good reference for researching the fastest growing occupations.