An article by TANYA MYKHAYLYCHENKO
This article covers several challenges mature workers face and how career pros can address them.
Career professionals have a broad range of tools for success when working with mature clients who have been in full-time management or administrative roles for 10+ years with the same employer.
Many of these workers are dedicated professionals who were known and respected in their recent workplace for their strong knowledge of the organization and its processes. Often you can hear them say, “I don’t know how to put this on the resume, but I just get things done. I’m very reliable.”
Mature workers who have not had to look for work in several years need help understanding ATS, networking, follow-up and ways of articulating their professional differentiators. The added challenges of post-COVID hiring may include higher competition, more agile businesses and more reliance on technology. In the current climate, mature workers may also need some assistance with highlighting their technical skills and their ability to work remotely.
Understanding the Agile, Contingent Workforce of Today
Competition is high, many roles are temporary, and businesses are trying to be agile and save resources. COVID-19 is introducing new remote ways to do business, use more technologies and delegate tasks to workers (in any location) who can be productive in a remote setting.
If your client was used to stability and long-term employment in their previous organization, they may first consider acknowledging the current situation to position themselves as a candidate who offers both stability and adaptability.
To support mature workers:
- Prepare them to leverage their experience and years of dedication to previous employers while expressing their adaptability to most recent changes in hiring.
- They can speed up their hiring process by being highly articulate about their measurable results, technical skills and soft skills – the combination that makes them stand out.
- Train them to highlight their hard skills as well as demonstrate confidence, competence, resilience and strong communication. A candidate with a calm, executive presence is seen as a reliable employee able to handle challenges.
- Articulate their value for them: focus on their ability to build consensus at all levels of the organization while listening to employer’s needs and solving problems.
- Help your client identify their top 3-5 differentiators that make them competitive.
- You may recommend that they write down a list of their top 10-15 strengths and pick 3-5 from this list when applying for a specific role.
- You can help them adopt a positive attitude of sharing, in concise terms, their unique professional value with a focus on employer’s needs.
- You can emphasize the necessity to research a target company, follow up, reach the hiring manager and build their LinkedIn network.
Understanding the Achievement-Based Resume Structure
As with all other applicants, mature workers may focus too much on job duties in their resumes.
To support your clients:
- Explain how the resume logic evolved with a focus on readability (documents must be easy to skim) and measurable results (‘problem – action – result’ format).
- Train mature workers to think in terms of how they solve problems and what outcomes they deliver (vs. process and experience).
- Ask specific questions or develop questionnaires to help them articulate results.
- Encourage them to prepare for interviews following the same achievement-based approach and think in terms of how they can help employers save money, make money, improve operations or address difficulties.
Understanding Current Job Application Cycles
Submitting a resume alone is not enough. Many mature workers may favour a resume spray approach where they send applications to 50+ open positions online, without prior knowledge of companies. Help them understand a job search strategy as a more focused, yet varied effort.
To support your clients:
- Help them inform their immediate network (service providers, community organizations, extended family, former colleagues or clients, religious, sports or recreational affiliations, etc.) that they are looking for a new role.
- Encourage your clients to create a list of 20 target employers and research them, follow them on social media, identify decision-makers and connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Provide your clients with examples of networking messages that are brief, clear and authentic.
- Help your clients understand the full cycle of the job application process:
- customizing the application for each specific role
- following up
- networking online
- building relationships while interviewing (for future opportunities)
- “closing the sale” after in-person interviews with some form of 30-60-90-day plan or a list of their action items for the first month if they were to be hired.
- Inspire your clients to be proactive at every stage of the application vs. waiting for a response. Help them understand that an online job application puts them in the pool of 100-200 other applicants and an interview invitation puts them in a pool of 2-6 other competitions. What will they do to keep standing out?
Throughout the process of working with mature workers, remind yourself of where they are coming from and how this informs their current motivation, approaches or challenges. By showing your understanding and acknowledgement of their current state, you can help them adopt new ways of looking for work faster, while finding the best approach for each individual.
Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a resume writer with a background in university teaching and IT staffing. She is a member of Editors Canada and Career Professionals of Canada.