How to Sell Yourself in the Job Search Process If You Are 40+

Most organizations are looking for young talents with some existing experience. They are seen as flexible, adaptable to the structure and working culture and have less demand salary-wise in return of developing their skills.

While working in recruitment, I personally also received requests from my clients to consider age in the selection process – which of course I refused. Not only is it illegal to discriminate people based on age by European law, but also strategically it is not a wise decision for a company to act so. Why?

In only 2-3 years’ time, on European scale there will be more workforce of the generation 40+ than younger. This means that aging society will start showing its signs in employment. But if the average age in companies will move up and it will be difficult to find replacement for the experienced and soon-to-retire staff, organizations need to value more the generation 40+.

There are lots of companies out there that don’t even bother doing evaluation or career planning with their employees over 40, whereas their interest should be exactly the opposite – keeping them motivated and building on their strengths and experience. A young and motivated new hire might be more engaged in cold calls, but why not use the experienced ones for key account activities due to their client knowledge or how about product development / marketing due to their product and market knowledge? In general, this generation is already clear with expectations in terms of promotion, so why not give them more varied activities, let them coach or train new staff or involve them in strategic planning?

The 3 most important things that a company should do:

Evaluate also senior workforce and develop a career plan for them

Hire a coach to set up the inventory of their skills and see how they could be transferred into a potential new job

Make sure you are aware of aging within the company and assure a good working relationship between generations, by looking at how to capitalize on the strength of both groups

If you are one of the heroes of this article, here are 3 steps to follow:

Make a balance of your career – Are you sitting in your dream job? What are your skills and interests? Where do you want to be? What skills do you need to develop to get there? If you find it difficult to go through this process by yourself, hire a career coach to help you guiding.

Check whether your desired opportunity exists within your current company or whether you can create it!


Upon losing their jobs, one of the biggest challenges that I hear from 40+ people is they are getting rejected by new employers, being labelled as overqualified.

Indeed, in this economic situation, many companies tend to look at the budget first, forgetting the benefits that experienced people can add to their team. This doesn’t mean though that all companies are doing this deliberately – sometimes they just don’t see the value a senior person can bring on board. And it is your job to get them known this!


You need to start already with your CV. Once the recruiter takes your resume in their hands, the benefits and value of hiring you must come across in less than 15 seconds (this is by the way the same for job seekers of any age). So your CV is your number one tool to show them what you’re worth. Forget the cover letter, recruiters getting 200 CVs per day, will not even bother to open it, unless they got interested in the candidate by the resume.

So keeping these in mind, what are the benefits of your experience?

These might include:

Short (or non-existant) learning curve. Sometimes employers tend to forget that not only hiring has its cost, but the initial learning period as well. Once you highlight that due to your existing experience this learning curve would be dramatically shortened, it will mean to them (a) less training costs and (b) better productivity and instant results leading to profitability. So in the summary/skills part of your CV, whatever way you formulate it, you need to show them the direct link between your experience leading to profit.

Developed soft skills. Young hires do not only need an investment in technical training but also in developing their skills. These might be organisational, time management, communication, work ethics, adherence to rules and much more. Again, companies tend to neglect this hidden cost, therefore it is up to you to draw their attention of what they gain with your background.

Training / Coaching skills. Again, due to the already elaborated technical and market knowledge of 40+ employees, they are the best people to train or coach the juniors. In your CV, highlight any training/coaching experience you have and show up what results it had in your previous company (for example if you trained sales staff and they brought a certain revenue after the training).

Consultant status. As you are coming in to the organisation as an experienced person, you have a fresh, external and therefore more objective view on the company, its strategy, products etc. Use your experience to show them in what way it can contribute to improving profitability by giving them your consultative approach, sharing industry best practices and trends.

Of course, these are just some examples of strengths you can come up with in your resume.

As for the interview and salary, a trend that I am seeing more and more often among 40+ “overqualified” people, tired and sick of job search that they agree to settle with a less than ideal salary level, but with the condition to get a raise either bond to a timeframe or results. This could be a good strategy to follow. Just imagine if you show your flexibility by signing a contract with the less than expected amount and you specify that an x% raise would be given to you tied to y result, this y result will bring money to the company, which will enable it to pay you better, leading to a mutual win-win situation.

Career Wellness Coach Erika Kalmar helps you clarify your true career path, find the job you have been longing for and design your career to move towards the goals you set.

Having spent the last 10 years in recruitment, Erika realised the importance of career wellness as opposed to career success and applies this in her approach with clients. She is working with knowledge worker professionals who want to bring in more balance and fulfilment in their career lives, by offering free career tools, articles, career support community and coaching.

Get your complimentary 29-page Job Search Toolkit with top tips, mistakes to avoid and templates at http://www.getreadyforjob.com/job-search-toolkit-sign-up.

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