EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Although we are frequently willing to accept lower salaries and/or lesser responsibilities, the greater challenge is convincing the world at large of our willingness and overcoming their resistance.

What we see as age discrimination, they see as just plain common sense in screening candidates. You may be willing, but they see their clients as being unwilling to consider over paid and over qualified candidates. The trick is to convince them that it is common sense. However, one way that doesn’t work is the frontal assault.

The frontal assault is telling them that they are engaging in age discrimination.

In dealing with the search community or human resources executives I have never been really successful in overcoming their inherent prejudices. I don’t think you can. I learned a long time ago that you can’t change people’s attitudes, but you CAN change their behaviors. By offering a free posting with a 48 hour result, WITHOUT discussing the fact that most of the candidates are more senior than they really want, I have been successful in putting our members in front of them BEFORE they start looking for more junior folks.

The strategy of trying to be something you aren’t doesn’t work. Take the years off your graduation dates if you like. Eliminate your oldest jobs if you like. None of that will work because before they hire you they will find out that you have LIED. And I don’t know about you, but I would never hire a financial officer I knew had lied.

So, what approach works? Sell what is in your wagon. You bring a lot of skills to the party. You have been there and done that. And, you are interested in the general parameters of the job in question. Please tell me, mister client, what is the problem?

If you take the time to examine job postings and try to present how you have solved the issues they face before, how can you lose? Well, of course you can, but if you don’t believe you are the best person for this job, you will have difficulty convincing anyone else. If you believe you are too old or over qualified, you will have a tough time convincing anyone else that this is a fit.

Telling a convincing story takes practice. And, the first person you have to convince is yourself. It isn’t a perfect world we live in. If it were, there would be increasingly challenging jobs out there that would exactly reflect a continuing curve of knowledge and experience that matched our backgrounds.

Alas, the world isn’t perfect. We need to force our square pegs into round holes from time to time to keep working at our chosen profession. I don’t see anything wrong with this. Reinvention is at the core of American values.

So, let’s get out those universally useful tools from our wagon of skills and show how they can be applied. And, make sure the parties involved know how much fun you will have doing it.

Regards, Matt

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