35-year-old asks: Too old to land certain jobs?
QUESTION: I am a 35-year-old single mother who only recently completed my degree. However, I've not been able to land a job that can provide quality experience in helping me become more marketable. My current job doesn't offer scope for growth nor do they recognise hard work. I am willing to volunteer to garner the experience to help me land a better job. Do you think I am too old to land certain jobs?
ANSWER: Congratulations on completing your degree. That's an important accomplishment. Although you haven't yet landed your ideal job, you've taken one big step in that direction.
Your decision to seek a job that can provide quality experience is wise, if unusual. Most job seekers focus primarily on the salary as their main criteria in choosing a job. That can prove a limited, short-sighted approach however. It's better to also factor in the quality experience they'll get, as well as the quality people they'll get to meet and work with.
In the long term, the knowledge and experience gained in the right job, working with great people at a moderate salary is often worth far more than an initially higher salary at a dead-end job. That description seems to fit your current job.
With greater knowledge and experience, one's capacity for creating superior value for the company is exponentially increased. And that's the secret key for getting paid more: creating and delivering greater value.
Without knowing the type of job you're looking for, it's hard to say definitively, whether or not you're too old. Generally, however, 35 is not too old to land most jobs. It's a fallacy many people buy into; that the older they get, the less their prospects for finding a great job. Fact is, you're not stuck because of your age.
What's far more crucial than your age is your ability to effectively package and market your knowledge, expertise and experience. This includes having an effectively customised rÈsumÈ and cover letter, and superior interviewing and networking skills.
Rather than being a hindrance, your age can be an advantage. You've gained knowledge, developed skills and abilities that a younger job seeker candidate doesn't yet possess. To leverage these positives, you must avoid the temptation to discount non-academic skills you've gained.
If you've learned leadership skills at church, or how to plan and execute projects at your current job, for instance, these are valuable achievements to highlight in selling yourself.
Generally, too, older job-seeking candidates are often regarded as being more reliable, stable and responsible. If these qualities are important to a prospective employer, then your age gives you an edge.
Right now, your best bet is to continue contributing as much value to your current employer's business as possible while learning as much as you can. It's a truism that working at a company for ten years doesn't mean having ten years of experience; it can mean having one year experience repeated ten times.
You get to determine whether that becomes true for you by the attitude you adopt in working and learning at your current workplace.
n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. firstname.lastname@example.org