Another take on age discrimination

Dear Bob,I am over 55 with two graduate degrees. One is in Computer Science. I have had two careers, one in the field of each degree. I am being vague to give me some deniability if someone in the company reads this. Currently I am working as a Software Engineer for a medium sized manufacturing company with plants in several countries. During the ten years I have worked here, I have written or managed the writin

Dear Bob,

I am over 55 with two graduate degrees. One is in Computer Science. I have had two careers, one in the field of each degree. I am being vague to give me some deniability if someone in the company reads this. Currently I am working as a Software Engineer for a medium sized manufacturing company with plants in several countries. During the ten years I have worked here, I have written or managed the writing of all the production software and as well as administrating the production computers at all the plants. I have managed from 0 to 10 people as the company grew and shrank depending on the economic climate. At the moment, the survival of the company is in doubt and I need to move on.

My problem is that I keep sending out resumes for jobs that match my background and interest using both web searches and human networking. I have not gotten one interview. I thought it might be my resume, but the feedback I have gotten is that I make too much money, even though no one has ever asked me what my salary range is. What am I doing wrong?

- Old Man and feeling it.

Dear Feeling it ...

It's hard to say exactly what you're doing wrong. My guess, unencumbered by facts, is that you're either applying for jobs that are stereotypically for younger IT professionals, or are just doing a very poor job of selling. I'm guessing it's the latter.

That you're getting no response from your resumes is unsurprising. Sending resumes to posted positions is a low-likelihood strategy, akin to mailing a brochure when you're selling an expensive product. (The main reason to even have a resume is that not having one raises too many red flags.)

The personal networking is more troubling, but you say you're sending resumes there, too, which leads me to believe that you're using your personal network to find openings, not to provide introductions.

What you ought to be doing is to ask people you know to introduce you to others (and so on) in order to be able to name-drop when asking, by telephone, for an introductory meeting. Name-dropping someone the hiring manager knows and trusts helps you bypass all of the barriers managers erect to keep out the riffraff (sales representatives and low-likelihood applicants).

Don't be shy. Get on the telephone, ask for face-to-face meetings. Ask those referring you what the big issues are that the hiring manager is facing. In your meetings, talk about what you can do to help the hiring manager and company, not about your skills, accomplishments, or anything else (except as anecdotes to illustrate how you'll address various situations).

Put yourself in the hiring manager's situation. Which would you rather do - find out from someone you trust about a potential hire that can handle what's needed? Or sift through a large pile of brochures (resumes) to try to figure out which product (applicant and total stranger) is the right person.

- Bob

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