May 13, 2013

Who says 58 year olds can’t get a job?

Filed under: Interviewing, Job Search, Q&A, Readers' Forum, Stuff I love

In the May 14, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader tells how he landed a job with more money, more vacation, in short order — at age 58:

I just wanted to tell you that I got a new job. Though I got this job by responding to a posting on LinkedIn, I used some of your methods during the process.

over-50This employer required a personality test, a cognitive test, a panel interview, and a puzzle test. I had to figure out a problem during the panel interview. I also had one extra interview with the vice president. Your typical HR-centric process.

So, what did I do that followed your advice? To be honest, I was a bit upset at the testing process, but this seemed a little useless since it was a requirement and I passed all the tests easily. I decided that I would make a quick package to show how I would do the job.

  • I created an outline of how I would approach the job.
  • I defined a process called a “Business Intelligence Baseline” that I would do on my first weeks on the job.
  • I enclosed a sample of a similar project I had done for another employer.
  • I also included a quick summary of a conference I went to on Big Data, because I knew that this firm was looking to get into Big Data.

I sent it to the VP.

I was offered the job with a slight raise and twice as much vacation time as my previous employer. (I should have gotten your salary book to help me with negotiations!)

Well, I don’t think that is the “it” job. It is the “for now” job.

Now I am going to start doing the process you recommend. I am going to do the networking and the other things you suggest. I like the point you make in How Can I Change Careers? that a person should be doing this all the time. When I need to move on, I will be ready.

To put this all in context, I was laid off from my job on March 22. I contacted these people on April 9, and got a formal offer on April 30. I just want to thank you so much. I will continue to follow you online and via subscription. I am not expecting a response. I just want you to know that on this pass I have been only a fair disciple of your methods. I promise next time I will do better. Thanks again.

Your “only fair” disciple,

Andy Hoyt

PS — September 14 is my 59th birthday!

Nick’s Reply

Your story needs no reply, no advice from me. Just a hearty congratulations! Thanks for sharing it. Readers sometimes ask me for a “template” they can follow to their next job offer. You’re 59 — theoretically almost unemployable. Your template works! (Those looking for more about this, please check The Basics. Also related to Andy’s experience: Don’t miss Erica Klein’s excellent Guest Voices article, Employment Tests: Get an edge. Erica’s article will soon appear in greatly expanded format as a new Ask The Headhunter PDF book. Stay tuned! )

I wish you the best, and I hope you’ll stay in touch to tell us about your next job offer…!

I’d love to hear from job hunters who try an approach similar to Andy’s. The steps closely follow what we discuss on Ask The Headhunter. Andy showed how he’d do the job! Do you know anyone who made a deal like this one happen?

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19 Comments on “Who says 58 year olds can’t get a job?”
By Donald
May 14, 2013 at 7:12 am

I am impressed and encouraged by Andy’s experience. However, as someone who just joined the ranks of the 50 somethings, I am offended that you would label us as “old-timers.”

By Josie
May 14, 2013 at 7:25 am

Hi Nick:

I’ve been following your blog and advice for years. When I was laid off from a big pharma company, I panicked naturally from the pressure of needing to meet my financial responsibilities. However, I took a breath, adjusted my thinking and went to work on my next opportunity. Using your advice and methods, similar to Donald, I did land my next and current position that I have been in for 2 years. During the search process, each company that I identified and researched and presented to offered me a position. The first one I accepted was my right now job. Then I found the “it” job that I have now. For those non-believers, your methods work. I even used your “How to Work with Headhunters” for one position. Keep up the good work. My next job will be joining you on the beach!

PS: I’m celebrating the 31st anniversary of my 25th birthday!

By Steve Amoia
May 14, 2013 at 8:40 am

Every newly-minted college graduate should read Andy’s story and learn from it. I doubt that most of them learned these strategies from their professors.

Well done, Sir.

By Nick Corcodilos
May 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm

@Donald: You left out part of the quote. Here’s what I actually wrote:

“Know any old timers (!) who got a job recently?”

The exclamation point is intended to reveal my ire at the term and the attitude of some employers. I think that comes through. I use terms like that while shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Sorry if that didn’t come through to you. I meant no offense.

By Nick Corcodilos
May 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

@Josie: Man, you’re old and working! :-)

(Pls see my “explanation” about my choice of words in my reply to Donald.)

Thanks for your very kind words. You’re proof that delivering profitable work and “showing the green” can trump the grey. My compliments to you AND to your “it” employer! You made my day.

By Addie
May 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm

‘ve been in my current job almost 20 years, still like it a lot, and have a great boss. But I needed a change and wanted to do more writing and critical thinking and less research. I’m probably older than most people thinking about job changes. About a year ago I applied for and was offered the job of my dreams. A key person in the chain of command hadn’t been hired yet, and since much of my work would have been under that person, I turned the job down. I did the right thing opting for the secure job I like, and I learned a really valuable lesson in the process of those three interviews. If your age doesn’t matter to you, it probably won’t matter to anyone else. The people who interviewed me reacted to my energy, not numbers. A very wise speaker once said, “My age is none of my business,” an adage I hold close.

By don
May 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Age is relative. I had a cousin in his 80’s with a spouse also in her 80s. He had an aunt in her early 100’s. When talking with them she always referred to them as “you kids”
Employers make their life harder. It’s about ability stupid. It’s hard enough to get that right without complicating it with stereo types.
@Donald…I’m an old timer..I’m 74, and picked up my job at 69. Job hunting over 50 is just a bit more challenging, over 60 character building, but at least not bogged down by the heavy lifting those old timers of 100 have.
For you job hunters over 100 my apologies for calling you old timers.

By Nic
May 15, 2013 at 6:43 am

Of course, he landed this job and it comes as no surprise. I congratulate the employer too for recognizing talent.

Today business people who want the job done and done right the first time around know men (and women) over 45 are far more intelligent, sophisticated, skilled, and serious than their younger peers today.

I would take a 70-year-old executive secretary with 35 plus years’ experience over some 25-year-old multi-degree simpleton who wants to sit all day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and whatever else we view as time wasting amusement largely for simpleminded people she can find. I know, as a fact, we will not look at anyone who is not deadly serious and who is clearly addicted to technology, especially a slave to social media.

In my opinion, a business or businessman worth his weight knows his employees represent him and his firm. I want knowledge of proper etiquette (both social and business) and someone that is ethical and reliable with a mind. My business partner and I just agreed that we would seriously consider people of those qualities mentioned above (largely meaning those way over age 45) when hiring.

As Nick said, this one requires no comment. It is ripe for personal comment and congratulations.

By Bill Boggs
May 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

As a full-time educator and part-time piano teacher I have found it hard to adjust to the “new” way of finding employment, especially for us babyboomers. I remember times when all it took was a “skill” to get a job and now it’s taking numerous tests. The world has changed and us new to the “tech world” better get used to it or be left behind.

By marybeth
May 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I am so glad that he got the job! Nick’s post shows that there is at least one employer out there who decided to be sensible and let the letter writer show him what he could do rather than relying upon a battery of psycho tests, personality tests (though the personality tests can be useful, but in a self-assessment way, or for a business consultant, but not as a screening tool), computer software, algorithms, and other screening tools.

At my current job, there is a full time opening. They posted the job, and I heard from one of my colleagues that there were 87 applicants (though I don’t know if there was any preliminary screening done by a computer). He said that they were able to automatically eliminate 6 applicants because they didn’t meet one or more of the requirements, including 2 internal applicants (meaning wider college internal applicants–both of them lacked the necessary master’s degree(s) and experience–one is currently working in IT and has complained to the dean about being eliminated. The dean told her “this is a professional reference librarian position–we REQUIRE applicants to have either an MLS or an MILS (Master’s in Library Science or Master’s in Information and Library Science) degree from an ALA-accredited institution, a minimum of three years’ full time professional work experience in reference, have experience in web design, and more. You aren’t even close.” This did not go over well with the IT person, but the college administration is backing our dean. Two of my colleagues are applying for it. I’ve heard that they’re going to interview 8 people, including the 2 internal part time reference librarians, and that the way they handle the interview is to give the interviews “problems” so they can demonstrate how they’d solve them. When I heard that, I asked the dean and one of the other full time reference librarians if they followed Nick’s blog. I got blank looks, but I smiled to myself because that is exactly the kind of interview I’d want–give me a problem or problems so I can show you how I’d solve them. One of my colleagues told me that she’s nervous about it because she’s never had an interview like that, and I told her all of the ways this is the BEST kind of interview. And I told her to think about every weird patron and question and plan how she’d answer and deal with them. That’s her interview.

By Nick
May 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

I’m a volunteer director and the organization is hiring a summer student. I’m definitely using the ATH website and blogs ideas to interview the future candidates.

And well done Andy!

By Citizen X
May 18, 2013 at 8:31 am

I, too, was 58 when I lost my job. At 62, I’m surviving my survival job quite well.

Normally, I stay away from Fox News as far as possible, but a link led me to their business reporting website, so my unconscious mind reasoned that not even Fox News could do too much damage to business reporting, so I carefully read the post.

It seems that companies and corporations have discovered that they need the experience and “acumen” of “mature workers” after all, and have begun rolling out the welcome mat after unceremoniously hanging up the GO AWAY sign in the help wanted ads for the last twenty years.

On one hand, this is good news; one the other hand, as one of my age-range counterparts making $120K a year said in an AARP article, “I didn’t grow stupid just because I lost my job.”

Please bear with me while I briefly recap events that led to our age-range’s improved negotiating position.

December 2007: The Great Financial Fiasco begins.

2008: Things become noticeably bad.

2009: Things are really bad, but no one really knows how bad (In March, I lost my high-paying job.)

2010: Manpower graphs that jobs really did dip below the zero mark in 2009.

2011: Studies show that the effects of long-term unemployment lower life expectancy.

2012: Research shows that the longer you keep working, the longer you live.

2013: Old people are recognized as vital to the success of companies and corporations.

2014: Old people take revenge by retiring early, not because they have to, but because they refuse to work for unappreciative companies and corporations (unless the compensation returns to its original trajectory—at my projection, at least 5% annually from whenever the compensation was interrupted).

Back in the 1960’s, when I was an honorary hippie, they called radical people our age Gray Panthers.

Negotiations in 2014 should prove interesting . . .

At any rate, things are looking up for people in our “age-range”. Don’t give up hope, because one thing I’ve learned is that relief comes approximately five minutes after you have given up. So don’t give up. Like Nick said once, “There may be 999 no’s, but it only takes one ‘yes’.” That’s what kept me going.

Congratualtions to all.

By Gwen
May 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I just love all the posts on here. Good stuff as it gives hope and a reminder to what really matters in a job hunt-talent!

By Success Story! How to Get a Job at 58? Demonstrate Your Value | Melanie Joan Dunn
June 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

[…] a recent post Nick quoted a 58 year-old reader who had recently landed a new job using some of Nick’s […]

By JD
June 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Nick,

Is there an template you used for how you would approach the job?

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – 71 Years Old: Got in the door at 63 and just got a raise!
July 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm

[…] recently heard from a 58-year-old who landed a new job. But your husband is in his sixties. I can offer you two things: Evidence that people in their […]

By Eddie
July 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

Sometimes, It is reverse age discrimination. My dad retired (pushed out with a big bonus to pension calculation) from the federal govt at 62 and got a job in the private sector, survived 9 layoffs, decided to retire for good at 85. My mom also worked for the federal govt and retired at 72. She was mostly used as a show piece as a model “mature worker” and pleaded for her to stay on to 75. this was years ago You go figure.

By Bruce Baillie
August 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm

“There may be 999 no’s, but it only takes one ‘yes’.” That’s what kept me going.

Thanks, I’ll remember that one, it’ll help to keep me going in my search!

By Daryl J
February 10, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Hitting the big 60 this year, I can say that us older folks are exactly what many employers are looking for. While many college grads and other younger generations may have more tech skills, our people skills are far superior. If you have sales skills and people skills you will blow away many of these new “high tech” youngsters.

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