Are You Experienced?

June 14th, 2013

If this title made you think of Jimi Hendrix, chances are you have several years of job experience under your belt. Many people who have twenty or more years of solid work history are finding themselves in the market for a new job—frequently not by choice. As an experienced professional, you may hear that you’re “overqualified” for a position sometime during your job search.

While you may be proud of your 25 years of experience, your new employer may be evaluating you from a different perspective. When hiring, employers know that they want someone who is experienced – but the level of experience a candidate has brings up unique concerns to the employer. Your resume headline touting your “20+ years of experience” may leave them wondering if you have stayed current in the industry’s trends. Or, they may be comparing you to a candidate with only 10 years of experience who may lead with their knowledge and enthusiasm for the position rather than experience.

Why are companies concerned?

When evaluating candidates, it often comes down to the perception that companies may have about each candidate. Candidates with only 10 years of experience know that they have many years left in their career – and this means that they “sell” their skills and eagerness for the position. They know that they have many steps left in their career and are looking for that next rung in the ladder.

More experienced candidates often are more reserved in their tactics to sell themselves. They think that their wealth of experience speaks for itself and doesn’t need explanation. However, this can lead companies to think that you are not as passionate about the position, and they want to know that you’ve still got a little something left in the tank. They also may be wondering why such an experienced candidate is applying for this position.

There are stereotypes regarding candidates with decades of experience, but it’s your job to break them. It’s up to you to convince the hiring manager that you are not overqualified, but rather fully qualified to fill the position and make a unique and productive contribution to the company. This is your chance to demonstrate that you are team focused and eager to be a utility player who works toward company goals rather than focusing on personal advancement.

How Employers Benefit from Hiring More Experienced Candidates.

You may be unhappy to find yourself back in the job market, but that must not come across in your interviews or correspondence. This is an opportunity; your chance to use your finely honed skills in a new environment.

A candidate who is “seasoned” knows the pain points in their field and how to address them. Emphasize the immediate return on investment that the company will realize if they opt to hire you. Be flexible about salary and/or benefits.

What Seasoned Candidates Need to Demonstrate in an Interview:

Job seekers who find themselves back in the market for a new job twenty to thirty years into their careers have to be sure to present themselves as current and relevant. To avoid potential employers from casting concern over your qualifications (or “overqualifications” as they may see them), there are several actions that you can take.

Focus and Commitment.

  • Highlight your cutting-edge skills and the fact that you’ve stayed current with industry best practices, technological advances in your field, and are current with regulatory and compliance issues as they relate to the position being offered.

Energy and Enthusiasm.

  • Discuss your skills, experience and qualifications as they relate to the position. Prepare three to five compelling stories that highlight your experience and provide the employer real-world examples of how you might make a difference in their company.

Commitment to Continuing Education.

  • Be diligent about staying current with industry trends, issues, and possible solutions. Know the pain points in the industry as a whole, as well as in your functional area in the industry.
  • Be proactive in personal education/skills development. Obtain a master’s degree in your field; attend continuing education courses; become certified in relevant disciplines.

Problem-Solving Ability.

  • Demonstrate your dedication and adaptability. Cite experiences that have given you skills to adapt and excel in various environments. Employers want to hear that you are comfortable working with cross-functional teams, are able to embrace (and solve) every challenge thrown at you, and navigate the nuances of a large corporation.

Consider working with a career coach to prepare you for the interview process. A career coach will help you position yourself in your job search to increase your chances getting the offer.

Contact Select Group and we can steer you in the right direction!

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