In the late 1970s when I was employed full-time at an oil company, a manager observed, "Perfect candidate but just a few years too old." Of course, he was being indiscreet but that's the way it was.
Currently, though, age bias is more severe.
That's because of technology. The powers that be assume we are behind the curve on it. Even if we apply for a junk job at a call center, we need to know, for example, CRM and how to operate several programs simultaneously. In addition, with healthcare costs so high, employers don't want to take on the added risk of an older employee who might develop heart problems.
So, it's imperative that we don't come across as "old" in our cover letters. That is likely to knock us out of the box immediately. If we can pass that first screening, we have a shot at getting in there and selling ourselves at the interview stage.
Here are the five most common errors we make in our cover letters. They deliver the message: old.
- Listing of too many jobs or too much experience. Keep it to 10 years.
- Lack of current professional buzzwords. Instead we use old-fashioned language. For example, we should use "outsourcing." Forget "just-in-time parts delivery." Reading help-wanted ads helps get us up to speed on the keywords in our field. Those should be presented in the first paragraph in order to pass the robots.
- Assertion about what's wrong. The reality is that the present workplace is filled with uncertainty. Everyone is trying to figure it out everyday. Certitude was from the 20th century.
- References to anything older than five years. Those range from retired executives such as Jack Welch to maximizing profits.
- Statements about willingness to learn certain software. The ad calls for knowledge of Excel or Photoshop. If called to an interview, you will have to learn that on your own. It has to be a done deed.
In addition, we have to follow exactly the instructions provided in the ad. Younger professionals know that and accept it. We are not special, despite all our accomplishments. If the ad says three paragraphs only, we provide three paragraphs.
Simplification, Tone of Authority, Wit. Those are the NOW communications work-horses. Contact Jane Genova for complimentary consultation for your advocacy/marketing communications (email@example.com).