The myths (and truths) about job searching after age 40
You might be older and wiser than you once were, but chances are these common misconceptions are holding you back from advancing your career.
You’ve got more than a decade (maybe two or three, gulp) of work experience under your belt. You’ve developed a valuable skill set, a deep network of VIP contacts, and a solid track record that others in your field would envy. So why are you so afraid of finding a job after 40?
Maybe you think employers will consider you too old or too expensive, or you’re worried the grass will be browner elsewhere.
Unless you’ve got retirement in your five-year plan—and hey, even if you do—you deserve to be fulfilled in your work life until then. And that means overcoming those pesky little voices inside your head that tell you it’s better not to bother looking for something new. But don’t take our word for it; Monster asked some expert career coaches to debunk common myths about finding a job after 40.
Myth: “I’m too old to be hired anywhere.”
“When clients are over 40, fear is what gets them. Focus on your strengths, not what you’re lacking. Do you have the qualifications? Can you bring value to this position? If you’re a subject-matter expert or have specific skills, play that up in your resume, cover letter, or communications with a recruiter. It’s easy to focus on why you can’t get the job, but the trick is not to let that psych you out.” —Joshua Miller, an executive coach in the San Francisco area
Myth: “Networking is the only way to get a job.”
“I regularly see three strategies successfully land people jobs: networking, answering ads, and working with recruiters. But these methods are only worthwhile if you use them effectively and proactively. Yes, networking is a significant part of the job search—and particularly for older workers—but don’t rely on only one method to help with your job search. Actively and effectively working on all three of these strategies is the optimal way to ensure your chances of landing a job.” —Paul Bernard, executive coach and career management consultant in the New York City area
Myth: “I’ll be pegged as less productive than younger candidates.”
“The Society for Human Resource Management notes that there is no correlation between advancing age and declining work productivity. Be innovative and demonstrate your ability to lead, to get things done, to enhance productivity with a process or system improvements, and to save or make the company money.” —Robin Ryan, career counsellor and author of Over 40 & You’re Hired, based in the Seattle area
Myth: “I won’t be happy in a role with less responsibility.”
“This is wrong on two counts. Many of us start down a track when we are very young that takes us to a place we never anticipated being. Some of us want to hit the reset button and have the financial resources from our first career to do just that. Second, as our circumstances change, due to ageing parents or health scares, many over-40 job seekers relish a job with less responsibility—as long as they can still add value.” —Kim Seeling Smith, founder and CEO of Ignite Global, based in Sydney and Austin
Myth: “I won’t like being supervised by younger employees.”
“When older workers feel valued for their contributions, it doesn’t matter the age of the person providing the recognition.” —Lauren Milligan, career advancement coach at ResuMAYDAY in the Chicago area
Myth: “Employers will balk at my salary requirements.”
“‘Too much’ is contextual to how experienced you are, the market demand for your skills, and how good you are at your job. If you want to command high compensation, make sure the employer feels they will get a good deal in return. Explain how you could take on additional responsibility, drive improved results and further justify the increased spending on their side.” —Ben Brooks, business and executive coach in the New York City area
Myth: “It’s too late to make a radical career change.”
“There is still time to make a lateral move to gain new skills or to learn an industry you have not been in yet. You have enough experience to know how to create a good business case for your ability to move your skillset to something else. The key is to remain nimble and not get complacent. Keep growing. Keep taking risks. Keep demonstrating your willingness to learn, and you’ll be able to negotiate your way to new opportunities.” —Laura Berman Fortgang, author of Now What?: 90 Days to a New Life Direction and owner of InterCoach Inc./ Now What? Coaching in the New York City area
Fact: You got this
Finding a new job may feel like mission impossible, but as the experts have made clear, it’s time to wipe from your brain all the misconceptions about job searching. Could you use some help locking down a new position? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top posts with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent to you when positions become available, so you can be among the first to apply. Let Monster help you find a company that will make good use of your skills and experience. (Yes, they are out there.)