How I Landed a Great Job in 5 Months After 50

Age vs. relevance: When interviewing, master the 4Rs

Courtesy Rhona BronsonAge 50 is not a career death sentence
I cringe whenever I hear pundits telling audiences that unemployment after age 50 is a career death sentence. It may be harder after 50, but there is hope and opportunity. After being out of work for five months, I landed a senior-level job with decent pay and hope my success can bring hope to others surrounded by prevailing negativity.

The key in getting and succeeding at interviews was proving that, regardless of age, I had mastered the four R's –Relevance, Resiliency, Responsibility and business 'Rithmetic. And if that weren't enough, I had to show how I was different.

"Responsible" is the easiest "R" for older workers, but approached in a new manner by today's interviewers. Behavioral interviewing is more the norm than years ago with hiring managers asking situational questions and looking for the potential employee's response in handling difficult co-workers, supervisors and direct reports. In one interview I was asked how I'd handle a difficult client – a question that I didn't nail and I was not invited back for the second round of interviewing.

"Resilience" also comes up a lot in the behavioral interviewing process with recruiters frequently asking how you handled a failure, or dealt with an underperforming employee. In one screening I was asked to describe a nightmare marketing situation. I was so taken back, I initially laughed and stated the key to great marketing is avoiding nightmares! Then, I answered by saying, "I can tell you how I dealt with projects that did not meet expectations at key milestones."

My answer demonstrated good project management, planning and communication skills as well as the need to manage expectations both with employees and senior management. In that situation, I passed the screening and became the top candidate for the open post, until I was asked the next question in the final round with the CEO.

The CEO wanted to know why he should hire me over every other candidate. The question was repeated in almost every subsequent interview. Sometimes the question was phrased, "Why are you right for this position over others?" When first asked this question, I was uncomfortable answering. Then, I realized the question was simply: "What makes you special?"

In the job I finally landed, I had the answer cold, and it wasn't a generic answer. It was specific to that job. I had conducted a study that no one else in the area could have done, and I was the only one who could bring that experience to the job.

"Relevant" is the hardest arena for older workers. The assumption by many hiring managers is that the older employee is stuck in old ways of working and thinking. I countered this with a strong digital profile on LinkedIn, a broad digital presence on Twitter and other social networks, and a deep digital footprint with a dynamic web site, digital portfolio, and involvement with new digital endeavors.

I invested time, energy and dollars in hiring help to build a digital portfolio and update my web site. The delegation was a key time-saver allowing me to concentrate on job postings and timely cover letters. In addition, I volunteered for the digital committee of a well-known marketing organization, got recertified in digital marketing, took online classes, and led various digital marketing groups.

All of that got me to the final round between me and one other top candidate. The difference in getting the offer became 'Rithmetic, or my ability to apply metrics to prove progress in project management.

Of all the interviews I had, age was only an issue in one – a digital company predominated by Millennials. In all other interviews, age wasn't an issue. The ability to be relevant was.

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Donna Rogers Young

Congratulations to your new job. I agree, it is hard to find a job with economy the way it is...You give me more hope to go along with my faith that I have..I will not give up and I know that something will happen for me soon....I am retired from a job of 20 years service but not enough money to live. I am in my 4th semester at college studying Business Administration....Once again, congratulation!!!

February 12 2014 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hi·i am that the fashion combine·pearl wholesaler·it is style wanonly·certainly initiate&process according to client-supplied&n the name designs the personnel-the video of price cooperates-

February 11 2014 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The subject of this article was unemployed only 5 months. She probably had not exhausted her savings and credit cards just to keep her home and car, so she probably had good credit. The problem is, when you're over 50 and lose your job, you remain unemployed much longer than 5 months, during which time you default on your mortgage and credit card payments, so add "bad credit" to your "unemployed" and "old" labels and you become permanently unemployable. I read in the news that the government is considering legislation to help released convicts because they can't find jobs after being convicted of crimes. What about the rest of us?

February 06 2014 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to queencelt's comment

You are absolutely right. Bad credit is an automatic "Sorry, no job for you" in most industries. Employment executives aren't very compassionate or understanding in that reqard.

February 06 2014 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Age seems to always be a factor in today's job market. I'm a healthy older person and have got valuable experience in mortgage and title industry. I want a job and would show up every day because "I want a job". It is almost impossible to find another job after being in a company lay-off.

February 06 2014 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I suspect that employers often use interview questions to fish for answers to problems they have. They probably have no intention of hiring you after the interview but the person conducting the interview gets some terrific free advice. I've interviewed at ad agencies who I know for sure have used my ideas in later campaigns. I call it stealing.

February 06 2014 at 4:38 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gosoaring10's comment

I was called for an interview out of town (all expenses paid), where the hiring manager quizzed me about my advanced degree in front of her boss. I didn't get the job, but I hope she got the degree.

February 06 2014 at 6:07 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Not everyone has the time or dollars to invest in building a digital portfolio.

February 06 2014 at 4:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

but this is not common. she is a rare exception.

February 06 2014 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Andrea's comment

You hit it right on the head Andrea.

February 06 2014 at 5:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Most job interviews are ridiculous and don't really address real situations in the job.....
frequently personnel will hire somebody for a position that the supervisor has already promoted someone to
from within the organization, so you are a fifth wheel.....and assigned to different duties....
Companies are highly selective with " Can the individual do this job"; however, once you are hired they use
you as a "Jack of All Trades" !??
I once helped intereview a guy who was a LINUX Guru. But the other supervisors wanted to hire him into a position where he was supporting mainframe cobol and jcl.
I said hire the guy; but not for this Job!!

February 06 2014 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to YourFtr's comment

So true. I had some good retail experience and worked with both the buyer and as cashier. I even had people ask for me to help them on the floor when I was in my office working. I was glad to help everyone and always did it with a smile and good attitude. But after I left that job and later tried to get a job as a cashier or any other job available at a new multi department store I was unable to get past the interview! I had six different interviews at different times and never got even a Christmas time job. Then one year at holliday time I walked into the store and there was one of my good friends with a job. I would not have thought much about it except that this person didn't have any retail experience at all, in fact she had not worked in over 15 years and was only there because her husband told her they needed extra money for Christmas. She didn't even want to be working! I never did understand this store. I had also after this worked at a smaller retail store and was told that I was one of their best cashiers. They said that my till was never more than fifty cents off which they said is very unusual at that time. so what happened? Who knows why I could not get hired at the first store, maybe I wasn't the look the manager was looking for.

February 06 2014 at 5:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Good comment. I was hired because I was multi-lingual and had international experience for a job in the international department of a law firm. Then I was asked to open my boss's mail that he brought in from home, pay his bills, and insure his wife's fur coat. When I complained, I was fired of course.

February 06 2014 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Excellent advice, full of pearls to tuck away for that next job interview!

February 06 2014 at 1:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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