How to Land Your Dream Role Even if You Think You're Too Old or Too Experienced
If you’re older and are looking for a job, or have even been laid off, you might worry that you’re too experienced for the roles you want.
This just happened to someone I know! She’d had a long, high-value career, and was suddenly laid off.
She would go to job interviews and felt like her potential employers just wanted to push her into a production role that was beneath her. Or simply didn’t want to hire her because she was too old or experienced!
I know it can feel hard to worry about ageism and whether your job applications or interviews even have a chance.
But here’s the truth: if you go into interviews focused on the ageism you might face there, you’ll bring negative energy into the room!
You bring defensiveness and resentment into the job interview—and even your applications. It creates a self-sustaining cycle that ruins your chance to connect with your interviewers.
But it is possible to reclaim a sense of confidence and to position yourself as the huge asset you are when job interviewing!
Here’s how to do it:
1. Recognize ageism, but don’t map it onto every company or hiring manager.
Recognize that while ageism is real and is out there, it won’t necessarily show up in every job interview and company. There’s a lot of diversity out there. Commit to being curious about the company you’re interviewing with and what they value.
2. Write down all the results you’ve achieved that would make you valuable.
Lots of companies crave employees who take responsibility and who they can trust to do good work in their name. Take a few minutes to jot down the problems you’ve solved, the results you’ve achieved, the areas you’ve led and managed. Even moments your instincts helped avert or address a problem in your past companies. These are the stories to have in your back pocket and to share during the interview.
3. During job interviews, think of yourself as not just an employee, but as a consultant helping solve a strategic problem in the business.
Ask questions like:
“What are your ultimate goals for the role?”
“What has been a challenge in the role before that you’d love to disappear this time around?”
These kinds of questions position you as a collaborator and fellow problem solver for their business or department— exactly the kind of thinking that positions you and your higher-level skills.
I know two people who worried they were too old but still got the job. One is now in a senior leadership role, and the other fulfilled her dream of landing a role at a more innovative company!
Why this strategy works
Even though ageism is real, walking in with strength and curiosity instead of defensiveness and just hoping to be picked changes the power dynamic.
I was a consultant for years, and I learned that asking curious questions about my client’s experiences during the sales conversation built respect and buy-in from my clients—and led to sales.
Frame yourself as a leader and others will see you that way!