How older applicants can best snag the job
There are about 3.6 million job openings in the United States. Unfortunately, for each open position, there are about six unemployed or underemployed people looking for a job. And when it comes to professional, management and executive positions, the figures are even more daunting, especially on Long Island.
"For every one position open, there's probably 50 to 75 to 100 candidates applying," says Anthony Zarb, senior branch manager for Long Island at Adecco USA (adeccousa.com), the giant staffing and recruiting firm that has its U.S. headquarters in Melville.
Additionally, older workers find the road to getting a new job is longer than for their younger colleagues. The duration of unemployment for people 55 and older is about 53 weeks, compared to about 36 weeks for younger workers, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. But if you make it as far as the interview, there's some good news. Chances are the hiring manager on the other side of the desk would like to give you the job.
A new survey by Adecco found that hiring managers have positive feelings about older workers and are three times more likely to hire a mature worker than someone in their 30s. The reasons: They view older workers as more reliable and professional. Still, hurdles remain. The survey showed that 39 percent of hiring managers said they are concerned that older workers may have difficulty learning or adapting to new technologies, so it's crucial for job candidates to tackle that issue on their resumé and at the interview. "They have to demonstrate their willingness to learn and willingness to accept change," Zarb says.
For those lucky enough to snag an interview, Zarb says there are still potential pitfalls. Older workers often price themselves out of the job, not realizing how much the economy has changed since they last worked. Zarb also says older candidates, overeager to display their knowledge and experience, sometimes talk too much during the interview. "Allow the hiring manager to take the lead," he says. Perhaps most problematic, hiring managers are often concerned that the older candidate may chafe under the management of a younger boss.
As for the Long Island economy, Zarb is cautiously optimistic. "We're seeing a slow but steady improvement," he says. He believes hiring may pick up after the presidential election, no matter who wins. "Companies that are standing on the sidelines are kind of waiting that out."