Recently, and quite unexpectedly, I found myself back in the job market. After the initial shock wore off and the feeling returned to my toes, I came to a startling realization. It hit me that at the age of 55, I’m going to be competing with people who still have acne, have never known life without Starbucks, and have iSomethings permanently attached to their bodies.
Fortunately, I chose a profession where older is a plus. Wrinkles and grey hair on a therapist simply mean that one has experience listening to stories that make one cringe. Despite that, I must admit that the idea of interviewing in order to sell myself to complete strangers had all the charm of a root canal. Let’s be honest, after a certain age, it’s hard to sum up one’s accomplishments in a 20 minute sit-down and not sound like someone who has one foot in retirement.
That being said, all will be well for me, and it was good to blow the dust off the ol’ resume. Additionally, I was able to come up with a list of handy tips in case any other grayer out there is faced with a similar situation. Here’s my top ten ways to land that next job, despite your senior status:
1. Shorten your resume. It's time to drop your early work experiences as there's a good chance that prospective employers are no longer interested in your ability to cook the Colonel’s chicken to golden brown, clean a toilet till it sparkles, or bag groceries with the precision of a NASA engineer. (All jobs I held at one time.)
2. If you’re going to use any of the new fangled ways of interviewing, i.e. FaceTime or Skype, make sure your device’s camera is at, or above, your eye level. No, soon-to-be, employer wants to see the inner workings of your nostrils.
3. Do not refer to this new way of interviewing as “new fangled.” Only old people talk that way.
4. Never, ever, use the phrase "Back in the day" unless the person interviewing you also remembers the Nixon administration.
5. When asked the inevitable, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” resist the urge to respond, "In a nursing home."
6. If prompted to ask questions of your own, do not lead with, "Where's the bathroom?” no matter how weak your aging bladder is.
7. Avoid telling your interviewer that you have bunions as old as he, or she, is. He, or she, won't get the joke, and you’re going to lose them to Google as they search the word bunion.
8. When asked what your greatest accomplishment has been, avoid saying, “Surviving the 80s and disco.” While most likely true, it won’t increase your earning power.
9. When asked for your areas of strength, do not mention your ability to tolerate the impertinence of people younger than you.
10. When asked for areas of weakness, for the love of God, do not mention your knees, hips, back, heart, etc.
One final note. On the off-chance that the person interviewing you is your age, or older, then, by all means, play the age card. Talk about how you still can’t believe that Hendrix is dead, how you’ve never forgiven Yoko for breaking up the band and how you wouldn’t even be looking for a job if you hadn‘t invested your fortune in 8-Track and Betamax. Happy job hunting!