Case in point:
I received a touching email from a guy we’ll call “D”, who had 30+ years of experience. But despite his efforts, he wasn’t getting any calls for interviews.
Now, there’s a good reason why this was happening, but it wasn’t his age.
See if you can spot the problem.
Here’s what he wrote:
I have applied for >100 jobs, but I got only one interview. Most of the application are being rejected during preliminary screening. I am getting some calls from recruiting agencies but they are not coming back.
He goes on to say:
In my resume, I only provide experience relevant to the job. I write 20+ years of experience as HR or hiring managers are not interested for experience beyond 10 years.
In my last interview, a panel of 5, pointed out that I have 36 years of experience since I graduated and I should not write 20+ years. I clarified that all the experience are not relevant to this position, I only indicated experience related to this job.
But I felt they are not convinced and not accepted well.
He then asks:
Could you please advise what should be my approach in this situation and what I will write to indicate "year of experience" in resume? If I write I have 30+ years experience I may not be shortlisted for the job.
This is definitely a frustrating position to be in, and I’m happy to offer my thoughts about why this is happening.
First, I want to acknowledge and thank D for sharing his challenges with us. It’s not easy to deal with this kind of situation. But it’s important to be open about these issues with ourselves if we want to solve them
So, let’s figure this out.
If age isn’t the real issue, then what’s going on here?
What’s keeping D from getting interviews?
At first glance, it looks like his "30+ years of experience" is holding him back, but I don't think that's what's going on here. It’s also not the reason why hiring managers and recruiting agencies skip over his application.
Believe it or not, twenty-somethings experience the same frustration and rejection – and they also think it's probably because of their young age and "lack of experience".
But the real issue is this:
Nobody taught them how to apply for jobs the right way.
For example, an employer doesn't care about general "years of experience". They want to know about your specific experiences solving (their) problems.
Getting an interview, acing an interview, and negotiating an excellent salary, requires three steps:
Step #1: Uncover your strengths, motivations, personality traits and core values. In other words, clarify what you (uniquely) bring to the table.
Step #2: Find out what the hiring manager or recruiter is looking for and discover what problems they are trying to solve in their company.
Step #3: Match your strengths to what they're looking for in an ideal candidate, and prepare evidence (drawn from your past experiences) that you are the person they're seeking.
Now, each of these steps requires careful consideration, and there are significant details that need some practice. Not only that, but these same three steps apply to preparing your resume and searching for a job too.
However, many candidates won’t put in the time and effort.
Because it takes serious work and focused introspection.
Nonetheless, it needs to be done.
Because when you skip these vital steps, you present yourself as a "generic" candidate with nothing special to offer, and you give hiring managers, HR managers and recruiting agencies no choice but to treat you as a commodity.
As a result, your REAL value doesn't get recognized.
This – not age discrimination – is what’s happening to D.
Even though he applied for more than 100 jobs, and he’s working hard, I believe he's not going through these three stages correctly – so he's presenting himself as a commodity candidate.
That’s what's really holding him back.
If D takes the time to go through the three steps adequately, then his 30+ years of experience could actually give him a commanding advantage over other candidates. After all, chances are high that D has solved many problems during his career, and I'm sure he has some impressive stories to tell too.
He just needs to bring them out and frame them the right way so the HR managers can understand how his experience is a genuine asset.
If you too are in D's shoes – where you're applying to scores of jobs, but are still struggling to get your foot in the door – then I'd like to offer a suggestion:
Consider investing in, and going through, my Interview Success Formula program as soon as possible.
It will help you uncover your strengths, motivations, personality traits and core values, and then you can use what you discover to highlight your experience and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're the candidate they're looking for.
I can’t emphasize enough how crucial thorough preparation like this really is.
It can mean the difference between being seen as just another applicant or one of the few top candidates worth calling in for an interview.