Our Top Tips

colm caveyView the various articles and blogs written in our Top-Tips which are mostly comments on some of the less obvious issues relating to work, career change and/or job searching. Less obvious - yes, but important nonetheless.

The links to all these articles are on the drop-down menus below and listed under their relevant topics. As always, your comments are welcome.

'Top-Tips' are short extracts from the Jobdoctor's Career Change Manual all of which is freely available to all our clients.





Mature Candidates and Job Applicants

OK, so you’re not a ‘Spring Chicken’: Some Points for Attention!


I frequently meet clients who express their concern about their age. Am I or will I be ruled out at the interview the minute I walk in the door. I once overheard a wise (my view) HR manager say, “tell me what you can do, not how old you are”. If you think about that, there’s a clear message in that statement. Mature means different things to different people. The salient point here is that the fact you got called to an interview would indicate that there was material on your C.V. that prompted the invitation. They clearly wanted to hear more about topics you addressed on your application; not your age.


That said, with the vast amount of jobs currently available in the marketplace, there is also a lot of great opportunities for younger people. Add to that the ageing part of the population who are fit and well but hitting retirement/full pension taking the opportunity to retire and then, depending on their expertise, pick up contracts or part-time work that pays a good daily rate. Don’t forget those school leavers, graduates and a number of people through redundancy all add up to a considerable amount. So you are not alone.


Like a pyramid, as you go upwards through the ranks to more senior roles, space gets smaller, the opportunities are less, but the competition is enormous. As you go up the employment ladder, responsibilities and expectations broaden and become more demanding. The more senior you are, the more experience and a deep understanding of business and management abilities with a history of success will be your key selling points.


With experience comes age or with age comes knowledge, so if you’re in this category, this is going to be the basis of your presentation and supported by your competence in running a department, sector or organisation.


A short while ago I had an appointment to meet my Insurance Broker near the city centre. On the way I passed a new fashion store that had just opened, I stopped to look in the door and immediately noticed the considerable number of staff on duty. They were all young, fit and good looking and clearly projecting the right image for the type of customer they attract and the product they sell. Food for thought – I thought.


I went into my insurance broker’s office, and I was greeted by a ‘mature’ manager who very efficiently dealt with my query, explained what I needed to know and made a sensible recommendation. I signed up and left the place very happy with the service provided.


I only mention this to outline that the considerable age gap between the two businesses wasn’t just by chance. It was precisely what the employers had wanted, but they would never tell you that.


A younger person probably wouldn’t have had the ‘grey hair and gravitas’ that is needed when explaining to me the return on investment. And a ‘mature’ or senior Insurance Broker would die a death in the high street store trying to fit out someone in a skinny top. So law or no law, gender balance or not, some employers have an image in their mind of the kind of person they want. They will never admit it, but they do, so your job is to convince them that they need your experience and expertise.


Don’t let age rattle you. You will be seen to be as young as you present yourself. There are horses for courses!


If you believe that you are getting close to an age barrier, then I would suggest you are not for the job.  If you are going to be a good candidate, then you must be confident that you can be as successful, or, even more, successful than any other applicant, as is the case for any applicant for any job vacancy.


There are a few points you need to review and bear in mind before you approach the market.


Your C.V.

  • Many omit to put dates on their education whether it is School or College. Nothing screams louder than ‘I’m an oldie’ than when you remove any reference to years, from-to, on your C.V.   A two-second calculation will allow anyone to take a reasonably accurate guess at your age if they want to. You can’t hide it, and you are only drawing attention to the fact by omitting to include it.
  • If you are in the upper age bracket, you should show, where possible your progress through a company and not just your current or last job title. Show the progress, show the improvement, show the promotions and demonstrate your successes as you progress within the company. You would not have got promotions if you weren’t good at what you do.
  • Make sure you highlight achievements and not just write a list of your responsibilities. You may have been responsible for something, but were you good at it.
  • State your achievements and put a measure on them regarding budget size, savings made (in money terms) or time saved through something clever you have done.
  • E.g.,
    Introduced a new software maintenance programme, reducing machine downtime saving approximately €2,500 per month and increasing productivity by 15%
    Negotiated and secured the contract with the ABC Corporation valued in excess of €6m per annum.


Important:- State your achievement and then put size on it. You got an order worth X. You reduce downtime by 20%. You reduced headcount by 10%. You increased sales by 30%. Stating a value gives size to the perceived achievement of the statement


Important:- Use bullet points and lean on your areas of expertise in short hyphenated statements. Avoid long blocks of text.


Important:- Even if you have many years of experience, you still must keep your C.V. to two pages, maximum. If you are reasonably senior, then try a one page C.V. which is even better. They are hard to do but done well; they are very effective.

Your Cover Letter:

- Do not re-write your C.V. Short and snappy, three paragraphs.
- Introduce yourself, the job reference if there is one, your job title and your interest in the job.
- A one or two comments about your experience and skills relevant to the post.
- Thank you, attach your C.V and finish with, I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. ….. No more.


Your Interview:

  • This is the part where a lot of candidates fall down.
  • Turn off your mobile phone before entering the building.  The world won’t stop turning.
  • Your appearance is most important, so you have to have regards for it. Unfortunately, some people take the view ‘this is me, and I’m not pretending to be anything else’. This attitude won’t work.
  • You have to be clean tidy and groomed, well groomed, clothes spruce and clean
  • Gentlemen, as the years go by facial hair appears everywhere. Deal with it.
  • Try not to look your age, and most of all don’t act your age. At interview stand up straight, walk in the door and shake hands with good eye contact and greet your interviewer by name and do not start by complaining about the traffic or complaining about anything at all.
  • Do not refer to IT, Internet, LinkedIn, email as kids stuff. If you think it is you are out of date. If it bewilders you, talk to your Son or Daughter and get a basic understanding but don’t belittle it.
  • Dress in a reasonably fashionable way. Be up-to-date.
  • You may be older and wiser than the interviewer so don’t challenge them on any point where you think differently. They are the interviewer, not you.
  • Talk positively and give examples of successes you have had in recent jobs or tasks.
  • If you wear glasses, wear them and don’t keep putting them on and off.
  • Do not compare any product, thing or person to the way it was 20 years ago.
  • Have prepared a view of how the company may perform into the future and if you have any good ideas, tell them.
  • And most of all; do not say to your interviewer, ‘I think I know your Dad from school days.’
  • Above all know your C.V. like you know your name and address; every line of it and at your meeting, from time to time smile.  It makes your whole demeanour so much more pleasant.


Good Luck.

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