5 Errors That Even Experienced Candidates Make in Their Job Search

By David Smith

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In our current climate, with people retiring later and later, we are going to see careers lasting longer, job seekers getting older. What a wealth of experience the more mature candidate can bring to the table!

This is more than a phase, this is likely to be a continuing trend! There is a great demand for people who have loads of experience, I know of one company who can’t get enough mature staff, because of their experience!

I searched for Recruitment Agencies who specialise in working with candidates in their 40s and 50s [I realise that this makes me a ‘mature’ person, but that’s fine!] There are plenty of companies that recognise a good thing!

They recognise that staff with a high calibre of skills and experience would be an asset to their organisation.

However….

Here are ‘5 Errors That Even the Most Experienced Candidates Make’ during their job search!

Under-Confidence

Thinking ‘I am too old for all this…!’ OK, not all recruiters recognise age and experience as an asset, I am not sure why, but this can’t be right?

Policies have been introduced that regulate the potential discrimination on the grounds of age…and there is a good reason for this! It is crazy to disregard this resource!

People with more experience are more settled, more sure of what they want and what they can offer to an organisation, and less likely to leave the company in the lurch.

Do recruiters think ‘What if I hire this lady and she retires?’ [I also think it could be viewed as discriminating if you ask the question.] But the decision to hire or not based on this could lead to a significant loss. Even if retirement was on the not-too-distant horizon, this person could prove invaluable and also leave behind an amazing legacy when [and if] they retire in the foreseeable future.

Starting a job search with the attitude of 'I'm too old...', or 'they won't want me...' may become the backdrop of all your applications and may well end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As I mentioned at the outset, people are retiring later and later. My mum is 70 in January and she is still working with absolutely no intention of retiring any time soon.

Giving the Game Away

Just because it is illegal to discriminate against age diversity, doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t happen.

Don’t give them the opportunity!

I encountered a CV from a gentleman who had listed his National Service in the early 1960s, commendable, sure! Necessary, no!

It is a challenge to know how far back in your history to go, but I think we could all agree that this listing was probably not needed, and more importantly, he left himself wide open to discrimination.

Don’t go to the other extreme and only talk about the last eight or ten years, when you finally meet up for an interview, the interviewer may do a double-take and wonder whether they have the right person in front of them, and also wonder why you kept quiet about all the rest of your experience and skills!

It is a fine balance, but an experienced CV writer could help you by drawing out all of your transferable skills and experience to create a rounded out background that suggests maturity and broad experience in a very positive way that leaves the recruiter not discriminating but looking forward to meeting this awesome person!

Current CV Style, Content and Layout

While we are talking about what is in your CV, it may be worth going into a little more detail about this.

I still see some CVs with pretty outdated formats and phraseology. For example, I have seen a heading entitled ‘Career Objective’ just this week, ‘references available on request’ and any number of stock CV clichés that describe ‘hard working’ – ‘team payers’, and I just don’t think these terms are going to fly when they hit the filters of ATS. Think ‘Digital Confetti’!

There are other giveaways that your CV has not been updated for a while, or that this person has been writing CVs since the early eighties. It is time to bring your CV up to date!

Embracing Technology

I remember the days of checking the suitability of a candidate before calling the employer to set up and interview, back in my Job Centre days.  OK, who just called me a Dinosaur?!

Job Seekers miss those days, even as recently as 2007 / 2008, I remember a guy telling me that he couldn’t apply for this job he’d seen because he didn’t have a CV!! 'Could you not just ring them and arrange an interview?' Excuse me for a moment whilst I dab the tears from my eyes..

OK, things were different then perhaps, but if we want to succeed, we have to move with the times and it is no good saying ‘but I preferred it when…’ It just isn’t like that anymore.

The way into your next role is by having a dazzlingly crisp, keyword-rich CV [It is time to accept the fact that Robots are now reviewing your CV, we have already mentioned ATS], and by having a fully optimised Linkedin profile, and making maximum use of the tools within Linkedin.

Over-Confidence

We started with under-confidence, so we will finish the post with over-confidence!

If you are at the top of your industry, then your salary expectations may be warranted. You may have got accustomed to a generous Annual Leave allowance, company car, office with a view, fewer working hours, a generous expense account.

It is still a tough market though, there is a great deal of competition who are willing to pull out all the stops for their next employer. They may not be as experienced as you…but you see the point?

There may be some room for negotiation if you feel that you are not being offered the most appropriate package in terms of salary, hours, benefits etc, but to be completely inflexible may not be your best strategy.

The employer may really want you, and bend over backwards to get you on board, they may prefer to hire you much more than their second choice, with ten years’ experience less than you, but budgets are budgets. The person behind door number two may pip you to the post if he or she is willing to yield a little.

Nobody is indispensable!

I hope that this post was helpful, but if I can be of any other help, you can connect with me via Linkedin, Twitter, or just drop me an email.

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