As a post-50 job-seeker, you're likely to encounter a number of preconceptions regarding your energy, enthusiasm and commitment to a new position and to your career in general. Many younger employers will hold the opinion that you're feeling burnt out, no longer flexible and open to new ideas, and are basically just putting in time until retirement. Therefore, mature applicants need to make an extra effort to present themselves as valuable, can-do candidates who are confident in their skills and enthusiastic about the opportunity to contribute to the organization.
In order to present a polished and compelling first impression, you'll need to impart a combination of positive verbal and nonverbal messages. The following three steps will help you create that powerful first impression -- one that shows you as the strong, attractive and valuable candidate you are.
#1) Your verbal message: Begin by crafting a personal brand that highlights your strengths and distinguishes you from the competition. Creating your unique brand is a great way to build a cohesive, targeted message that will present your skills and experience at their best. Here are several factors you'll want to include in your own power brand.
- Speak to your strongest technical/knowledge-based skills. How will your specialized training, educational background, and specific technical skills benefit a potential employer?
- Pinpoint your special strengths. What makes your personal style, work ethic, ability to get along with others, etc. create added value to an organization?
- Determine what makes you different. What distinguishes you from other candidates? Do you have a unique combination of cross-functional skill sets? Does your breadth of experience set you apart? Which attributes and talents make you an exceptional candidate? How can you contribute in ways that others could not?
- What is your core message? What is the key impression you want people to take away from meeting you? Why would they want to meet with you again? What makes you the best person for the job?
#2) Your nonverbal communication: Once you have your brand in place, you'll need your nonverbal messages to complement and enhance what you're saying about yourself. Your unspoken manner should exude your confidence in the skills and added value you'll bring as a candidate of experience, your enthusiasm for the opportunity and what you can contribute, and your youthful energy and can-do attitude.
- You'll want your confidence to show by the way you carry yourself, a firm handshake, open body language (nix the crossed arms) and eye contact.
- You can display your enthusiasm through your vocal tone (warm and sincere) and a ready smile.
- Your youthful energy and can-do attitude can be shown by your overall appearance. Make certain your dress is up-to-date, well pressed and clean, your eyewear and accessories are likewise current and conservative, and your hair is styled fashionably and befitting the position for which you're applying. By keeping your look stylish and current, it shows that you care about yourself and the image you project to the world. Also, make certain your smile is an asset and, if necessary, whiten your teeth.
#3) For an extra powerful presence, consider this: There's exciting research coming out of Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley around the dynamics of confidence and power inherent to certain forms of nonverbal communication.
It has long been accepted that our nonverbal messages affect how others view us. But new research is confirming the fact that we affect our own thoughts and outlook by the way we hold ourselves. In other words, our bodies can affect our thoughts just as much as our thoughts will affect our bodies. Take a look at this fascinating article in the Huffington Post, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are," about Harvard University's Amy Cuddy and her findings in power dynamics and nonverbal messages.
Presenting a powerful and polished first impression is, indeed, a combination of factors. So craft a compelling brand that plays to your strengths; augment your verbal statement through empowering nonverbal messages and set yourself apart. Most of all, anticipate success. A confident, warm and upbeat attitude is the best first impression of them all!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in February 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!