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Is Age Just a State of Mind?

Relaunching your career following a break requires you to re-organize your life and embark on many activities that you likely haven’t done for a while – create a Linkedin profile, apply for jobs, prepare for interviews, and take the leap of faith to get yourself back in the market. On top of all of this, you may worry that your age will hold you back – that’s a lot to have on your already full plate

By Valerie Cherneksi

Valerie Cherneski is a certified executive coach, facilitator and speaker who uses her background in law and psychology to motivate change and development. As the Founder of Cherneski Coaching, Valerie focuses her practice on highly driven lawyers and corporate professionals, and assists them on a variety of issues to streamline their lives and build further upon their success. Valerie serves clients across the United States and Canada and is a frequent contributor to the iRelaunch blog and "3, 2, 1, iRelaunch" podcast series.

Age is a top concern for relaunchers. This is the case for relaunchers of all ages, because whether age is going to be an issue depends on more than just your actual age – it can also depend on your industry, the length of your break, and whether you are making a career transition while relaunching.

Age, however, should not hold you back. When you are looking for work, imagine presenting yourself as a full pie. There are many pieces that make up the pie and age is just one piece of the pie. So when an employer is considering you for a role, she/he is looking at the entire pie that is you.

The good news is that your age is one of the only pieces of the pie that you cannot control, so let’s get busy working on all of the other pieces that are going to make you the best candidate for the role: your experience, your strengths, your stability and loyalty, your wisdom, your responsibility, your readiness to work with renewed focus and determination, your skills you are updating or learning, and your passion for the role.

Practically speaking, when preparing for meetings and interviews, put yourself in the shoes of your interviewer and get ahead of what she/he may be thinking:

  • If you are worried they may see you as outdated, speak to this in your interview and demonstrate that this is not the case because you are a quick learner, you have kept up to date, and have a natural ability to adapt. Do your research and dress for the part – don’t underestimate the message you can send through your appearance.
  • If you are worried that your potential new manager, who is younger, may be concerned about managing an older employee, speak to your strengths as a team player, your success in the past working with people of all ages, your eagerness to learn and your lack of interest in office politics.
  • If you are worried that you will appear overqualified (which could be age related), get straight to the point and explain why the role is exactly what you want at this stage of your career. Be clear that you intentionally chose that role and show them why your skills are a great fit.

ALWAYS use examples. Saying you are a quick learner is not enough – immediately follow through with an example from your past that highlights this quality. This proves your point and makes you memorable.

If you make age a big deal, it will show. You cannot turn back time, so build your confidence by owning your age and recognizing it is only one piece of the pie AND it could be a real plus – it’s up to you make it so!

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