Take a self-assessment to evaluate your next job application!

Do not think of your age as a barrier to your dream job.

Landing the dream job can be challenging for senior professionals especially when you need to change your career and/or apply for the job that you want. However, age is not holding them back. Just like other younger candidates, senior applicants should consider these following areas for any job application!

Selection criteria
Bill Bardsley is an industry recruitment and training consultant who has been involved in major recruiting programs for corporates such as Village, Crown Casino and Sportsgirl. When asked about the major reasons people don’t get jobs, Bill had some useful advice: “Applicants need to become educated in addressing the selection criteria when applying for positions. Organisations will usually have a stated selection criteria and applicants will also need to assess if there are implied criterion. It’s as simple as putting yourself in the employer’s position and attempting to recognise the patterns which will invariably be there. What image is the company wishing to communicate? What are their market segments? What sort of person do they want in their organisation?

“Much of this is logical. Take for example an Australian retail fashion outlet which is hiring. Its market segment is young, trendy, chic, upwardly mobile, well educated and female. They would naturally be recruiting trainee sales people in the same image, and looking for good communication skills, self-confidence and good fashion sense in order to feel comfortable with the customers. The attributes of the applicant should support the image the organisation is trying to create.”

Another good example in Australia is the call centre industry. The call centre industry is one of the fastest growing sectors, which at present cannot recruit enough suitable people. Logically, the call centre industry wants people who are enthusiastic, can speak clearly and have some life experience to assist them in dealing effectively with sales and complaints. “They are unlikely to employ people who are shy, introverted and not customer service oriented, so it’s logical how you should present your abilities,” said Bill.

Know what you offer

While age can be a deterrent for some employers, it is more important that prospective job seekers are to do their research. The following questions or approaches are worthwhile considering when you’re job seeking.

  • What features and benefits do you bring to the job?
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Sell your strengths and effectively handle your weaknesses. If you have identified some weaknesses (if you haven’t then you are not looking hard enough) take some action to minimise them if possible. Alternatively, find a way of lessening your weaknesses by compensating with your strengths.
  • When you go to buy a computer, presumably you do some logical research. What are you going to use it for? What features and benefits does this model have? Will it suit your needs? Now think about the similarities between the sales process and the job application process. In this case, you are the product and you are selling your skills, abilities and expertise in return for money. Approach getting a job with this model in mind and selling your skills will be a lot easier for yourself and for the person doing the recruiting.
  • Make the buying process for the recruiter easy. Find out what they want and give it to them.
  • A majority of people are employed by small businesses. In many cases, the reason for the vacancy is to replace someone who has left. The person doing the recruiting in this instance will probably not be a dedicated human resource professional and may not know exactly what they want. Showing that you have done some homework on the company, the position and the industry will help make it easy for the person doing the hiring to make a decision.

Getting to the interview

If you didn’t get the interview then your resume didn’t do its job. If you are not getting interviews the first thing to do is get busy on your resume. I have conducted major surgery on many resumes much to the horror of the owners, many of whom had spent money on having it prepared by a professional resume writer. They believed that because the resume cost a lot of money that the resume had to be correct. The only correct resume is one that reflects you in your best light and gets you the interview. If the resume fails to so this, then make changes. If what you are doing is not working then do something different. You will have a much better chance of success when you make change, compared to doing the same thing that has not been working and expecting the results to change.

One resume is not appropriate for every job application. The most important thing is to address the selection criteria. Your resume should be focused on addressing the selection criteria. A senior human resource practitioner in a large retail firm recently advertised for two sales staff and called for written applications that specifically addressed the selection criteria. Of the 150 applications that she received, only four had addressed the selection criteria. I wonder if the other 146 assumed that they didn’t get an interview because they were either too young or too old?

Test your assumptions
Before you go any further, list what you believe are the reasons that you failed to get the last three jobs that you applied for. Let us check out your reasons to see if they stand up to a reality check. This is a critical part of a self-assessment. If the reasons you believe are true then you can plan to do something about them. If on the other hand, your reasons do not stand up to this reality check then you will need to find out the real reasons why you have not been successful. Imagine that you are in a court of law and that you have to prove the reasons that you have stated are absolute fact. What proof do you have?

People doing this exercise will often find it challenging and will have a tendency to become subjective with their responses. This will not help you to assess yourself accurately.

Consider one reason at a time and go through and answer the following questions as objectively as you can:

  • What facts do you have to substantiate this belief?
  • What specifically has been said? And by whom? Are they a recognised authority on the subject (maybe they are a well-meaning friend or relative who thinks that they are helping you by agreeing with you)?
  • What has been written specifically about you or to you that supports your belief? And by whom?
  • What are the other possible reasons for you not getting the job?
  • Did you specifically address the selection criteria (stated and implied)?
  • Did you present your features and benefits successfully?
  • Did you answer the difficult questions effectively?
  • Does your appearance reflect a similar image of others working there?
  • What is your attitude to work? Are you just there for the money? This often shows.
  • Did you get an interview? Is your resume up to speed?
  • What else could it have been?
  • Does this belief help you get what you want? Does it get you motivated to go out there and apply for lots of jobs?
  • Is this reason an excuse that keeps you in your comfort zone or is it an undisputed fact? If your belief is a fact then you will need to consider what can be changed to minimise the impact.

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