Chicago Tribune (Sunday)

Doors opening: Overlooked potential employees must show resolve, offer solutions


If you feel like your job applicatio­ns have been cast aside in the past for whatever reason, take some time to prepare yourself for what may be an unpreceden­ted era of opportunit­y. The time may be now for those workers who have not fit into the usual hiring mold.

As for those looking for work, Ira Wolfe, president of Success Performanc­e

Solutions, says honesty is the best approach for anyone who may have questionab­le items in their past.

“Be transparen­t but focus on your skills, especially transferab­le ones.

If you can sell, sell yourself and your accomplish­ments. If you have great mechanical aptitude, describe what you can do. If you’re great with people, talk about what you’ve done to go above and beyond with a customer. If you have co-worker or customer testimonia­ls, share them,” Wolfe says. “Highlighti­ng your hard-working, ambitious, positive attitude might get you a few points but probably won’t get you the job. Managers want to know you can do the work so focus on the skills you have and what those skills will do for the employer should you get hired.”

Joshua Hart, president of Red Panda, an employee-relations firm, says job seekers who previously might have been hard to hire must have a strong sense of situationa­l awareness to land a new gig. “Employers will find out why you would typically be hard to hire, so don’t hide your past,” Hart says. “Instead, remember that you have a story and an experience unlike anyone else. Use that to your advantage. Have a statement to explain your past and make sure the retelling is concise and honest.”

Still, Hart says job candidates shouldn’t feel like they have to overshare the details of previous troubles. “There

is no need to go into what kinds of drugs

you were taking or how the management skills you learned from the cellblock make you a better employee,” he says. “Employees care little about where you have been. They care much more about where you see yourself going and how you get there.”

According to Wolfe, many seniors say they can’t find a job because of their age, but that’s not necessaril­y the case. “You can’t use age as an excuse for poor digital skills or a lack of skills of any kind,” he says. “If the job requires a specific skill set, you need to have [those skills] to get the job. Upskill or reskill, and plenty of opportunit­ies will open up.”

Mark Anthony Dyson, career consultant and host of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, agrees. “Workers 50 and older must show their relevancy, their ability to work remotely and that they can collaborat­e,” Dyson says. “They can use new media tools like video and podcast interview shows to display their extensive knowledge and expertise.”

In his book “Next Job, Best Job: A Headhunter’s 11 Strategies to Get Hired Now” (Citadel, $27), Rob Barnett offers some practical advice for older job seekers. “The minute you stop believing that everyone will see you as too old for the job, you won’t be,” Barnett writes. “The parts of yourself that are impenetrab­le to your chronologi­cal age are what you need to be proudly shining: Positive, effective, motivating, likable, attractive, smart, fun, inspiring, generous, confident, strong, approachab­le … These words feel good to read. Think about how to bring these gifts out of your heart and into your head, words and actions. Fill the room with super-charged, magnetic energy. It will immediatel­y become much more difficult for people to focus on rejecting you because of your age.”

– Marco Buscaglia

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