How to Start a Job Search at 55: From a Hiring Manager

How to Start a Job Search at 55: From a Hiring Manager

There are comments you hear that will make you cringe. "The test results are positive" or "We're downsizing" or even "The wedding reception band plays rap music". It can also be the case with the bittersweet phrase "You have an interview". Bittersweet because yes, this is what the job seeker is working diligently to obtain, but there is a sweatiness that almost instantly forms in the palms as you consider the event.

We recently spoke to an individual who had not had an interview external to his company in about 20 years. However, there was a period in the early 2000s when he was an IT Director and did a significant amount of hiring. So, he sat down in his home office next to the trusty Golden Retriever to think what advice my hiring manager side would give to his job seeker side.

Here are his thoughts.

There are mountains of advice columns, books, blogs, etc. where true recruiting experts can advise. If you tried to keep up with all the tips and tricks that are given you would be reduced to a pool of water in the interview as you try to remember it all. 

The most important thing is to remember you only get one shot at the first impression. There is some scientific evidence that the "visual" stimulus in the interview may be as much as 60% of the information gathering.  How the candidate was dressed, grooming, posture, and body language provided important signals as you stepped through the questions.

The next thing I remember is that the hiring manager's chief goal in the interview is to cut through all the candidates' coaching to find out what they would really be like when they showed up for work on that first Monday morning.

Authenticity is the holy grail of the interview. Everyone has numbers. They've reduced x percent, increased by y percent, added customers, eliminated waste, etc.  Don't get caught up in the math on the resume, as it seemed many of the candidates' calculators would misfire on the actuals.

Usually, you could start to get to the real person by talking about weaknesses.  Candidates who were honest and thoughtful about how they worked through their warts and freckles moved to the top of the list.

Consider a  discussion on mistakes. Once he interviewed a project manager candidate who had never missed a deliverable or key timeline. Really?? Then you couldn't work here because our business people can't make up their minds on requirements, the delivery timelines from our customers are ridiculously short, and our IT partners generally have a fire to put out rather than meet our agreed-on project task for that week.

And finally, embrace the moment. Interviews are stressful, no way to get around that. But, look at it this way: someone is giving you time to talk about the great teams you've shared tears and celebratory beers with and all the wonderful experiences that you've had in your career. 

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