Competing Against Younger Generations in the Job Market
These days, people age more gracefully, live longer and maintain high energy well into their 60s and beyond. Since the general public is living longer, we are finding many people working longer, often well past retirement age. This may be due to necessity and/or to ensure they have a substantial retirement nest egg when they do exit the workforce for good.
Despite the reason, we are seeing many members of older generations (Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers) competing with younger generations (primarily Millennials) for jobs. Age aside, the older and younger generations couldn’t be more dissimilar — just take a look at each group’s work ethic, lifestyles, attitudes and upbringing. From an employer’s point of view, the best candidates are those with the experience that Baby Boomers/Gen Xers bring to the table and the fresh perspectives and modern approaches that are offered by Millennials.
Consequently, as the older generations remain in the job market and the younger generations mature and gain experience, how can the older generations compete? If you are a Baby Boomer or Gen Xer starting or in the midst of a job search, below are some valuable tips for how to best market yourself and gain a competitive edge.
Stay Up-to-Date on the Latest Technologies
In many industries, knowing how to use the latest tools of the trade is critical. This is an area in which Millennials tend to have an edge over older workers, as they grew up using computers, automated tools and software applications for performing most tasks. To compete with these more tech-savvy job candidates, make sure you are thoroughly comfortable around a computer, the Internet and using standard business and workplace applications such as Microsoft Office and Google Apps (now called G Suite). Also, take the time to learn any new and emerging software and Internet tools utilized in your industry and that are required to perform the job you are seeking. Get additional training or tutoring, if necessary.
Stay on Top of What’s Happening in Your Market
The longer you are out of school and the more immersed you are in your job, the easier it is to unconsciously tune out what’s happening in your industry. To be competitive, you want to make sure you are up on your market’s latest direction, trends and conversations. Read the more relevant and recently-published books and articles, but also look into what leaders in your industry are talking about on blogs and social networks. That’s where you’ll find the most current information, but it’s also where Millennials go to get their information and stay on top of what’s happening in the market.
Think Outside of the Box
Creativity isn’t something you lose with age — it’s always there for you to tap into. However, it’s also easy to get into a particular mindset about how to do things as you get comfortable in your profession. Millennials are known for bringing creative and innovative ideas to the workplace — but you know that you can be inspired and inventive as well. You very likely have moments in your vast experience when you came up with creative solutions to problems or ideas for projects. Recall those moments and use them in your resumes, cover letters and interviews as examples of your own ability to think outside of the box.
Be Open and Adaptable
The workplace is always evolving and is not what it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Work hours have changed from the traditional 9-5 and are more flexible. In many organizations, employees no longer work in cubicles or even at individual desks, as collaboration has become a bigger part of the workplace. You’ll most likely find yourself working alongside people with different work styles as well as attitudes. For that reason, you want to present yourself as being open to workplace changes and adaptable to working with a variety of professionals.
Focus on Your Most Marketable Attribute – Your Experience
One area where you certainly have an edge over the younger competition in the job market is your many years of experience. Make sure to emphasize that! Even if you’ve changed careers at one point, you have all the years of experience you’ve accumulated as a professional as well as in those different markets.
Bring Your "A" Game
You’ve done this before, right? Think about how many interviews you’ve been on in your lifetime, not to mention all the other professional interactions, such as meetings, presentations, pitches, etc., which someone of a younger generation has yet to accumulate. There’s experience there as well, which will help you be more articulate and give you great confidence (attractive qualities for a job candidate).
Use Your “Wisdom of the Ages”
Being older, you have a certain amount of wisdom that Millennials don’t have simply because you have lived longer — that greater understanding of how people tick and situations unfold (because you’ve “been there and done that”). You’re also likely to be more grounded, rational, disciplined and mature — qualities that are very important to employers.
Convey the Right Attitude
Remember that you are not “old” — you are “experienced,” “seasoned,” “accomplished” and “focused.” You also know who you are and bring the well-roundedness that comes with having lived and faced challenges as well as experiences. You know you've got this, so make sure you express that positivity in your resumes and interviews. By having the right attitude and incorporating all the other tips above, you’ll not only give yourself the edge over the younger candidates, you’ll present yourself as the best candidate.
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