Earlier today I heard a commercial advertising this year as the 45th anniversary of the release of Mary Poppins. Wow. 45 years. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original audience still enjoy a movie first released in 1964. Young Julie Andrews, handsome Dick Van Dyke – nostalgia … makes you feel all warm and fuzzy doesn’t it?
Now, apply that same time frame to a job seeker and their career. Whoa! Suddenly 1964 is a lifetime ago and forty-five years is a mighty long time. See how that nostalgic warm, fuzzy changed to an “old as dirt” mentality almost immediately.
I spoke with a potential client recently. Wanting to send him my contact information, I asked for his email address. It was firstname.lastname@example.org. I politely asked if he was born in 1955. “Yes.” So I told him, “Get a new address.”
Age-discrimination and age-exclusion do exist. Sure, it’s wrong. Yes, it’s unfair. But it’s out there. In order to have upper level management experience, you have to have solid experience; experience that takes times to amass. That’s a given, but save the time-line calculations and exact dates until after you’ve already won them over with astounding, measurable accomplishments.
Yes. Thirty-years’ experience is a wonderful thing. Although, to a thirty-nine-year-old hiring authority, it’s almost their entire life. Focus on major accomplishments during the last five to ten years and make casual mention of earlier experience.
As with any sales and marketing campaign, you’ve got to think about your audience. Touting age and exact years of experience is OK for Mary Poppins. She’s a legend and we like our legends long-lived. However, if you’re a job seeker, you’ve got to tell enough to gain interested, but not so much as to label yourself.
It’s a fine line … makes you wish there was a word like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to make it easier.