Class of 1982-The Elephant in the Interview Room

March 9, 2009

Regardless of the fabulous single process color of my hair, the graduation date on my resume is the elephant in any interview room. “I thought she was a lot younger than that” is the best I can hope for as they do the math, hopefully comparing me to their age and not their mother’s!

You see, it’s a Catch-22. I’ve spent some years out of the corporate loop. So, of course it’s important to fill those dreaded gaps with impacting action phrases describing my successful, if unconventional ventures. Which all of a sudden makes me both overqualified and dramatically unproven at the same time.

I have applied for some positions only to be either rejected as it’s deemed below my qualifications or promoted to interview for a senior position where other candidates more seamlessly fit the mold. Would I sound lacking in confidence (or the desperado I sense I am becoming) to admit, “Hey, just bring me on at any level. I know I can do it and the clock is ticking!”

You see, I wasn’t expecting to keep pace with my peers that toiled these past 20 years in a conventional job. But it is becoming shockingly clear that there was an expiration date on the value of my original corporate experience-and some view my date should land me in the spoiled bin!

Matt Youngquist, author of Career Horizons: The Blog! offers an insightful punch list of issues for those of us engaged in the post 40 job search. It is spot on in assessing these silent but deadly misgivings the guy across the table might be having. I plan on working my way down the list to be better prepared for my next fabulous opportunity.

How’s that for optimism? What are your secrets for keeping the faith?



10 Responses to “Class of 1982-The Elephant in the Interview Room”

  1. Gina Earles Says:

    Many years ago (before my own kids created my lovely resume gap) I interviewed a woman who had been a director level in communications before taking mom time off. I was interviewing her for a much more junior position. I will never forget her approach. She said that she was not interested in a senior level position any more with the stressers of 60 hour weeks managing staff and budgets. Instead, she’s a great writer and wanted an opportunity to do that in a 40 hour manageable week. At the time I was so unfamiliar with her situation, but I really appreciated her candor. I hired her. There are so many strategies for getting through the transition. This is just one of them.
    Good luck my sorella!

    • IGrewUp Says:

      Yes, I feel the straight on approach is always the best as it will always be most forceful and genuine. The trap comes in balancing the build up of the gap period accomplishments with your interest in really starting at a much more modest level. Its a fine line that takes some practice. But I am working on the practice!

  2. IGrewUp Says:

    Yes, its all about clarifying the message. My initial mistake was sending a mixed message, which leaves everyone (including me!) confused!

  3. One of the ways you might handle not being the “cookie cutter” applicant for the position is to stress your added value. Sometimes highlighting that you have a “unique combination of X and Y” can arouse the interest of the interviewer and make him or her see that you can contribute in additional ways than the standard candidate.

    • IGrewUp Says:

      Eileen-I agree 100%. I have also been working on adding in broader continuing ed type courses in order to “juvenate” myself a bit with cutting edge info (the blogging can’t hurt to drop in there!) It just gives me that extra confidence to keep giving it all I can. I would love to be able to be that full package-after all, we can learn the new stuff, but our younger competition can never currently possess all the wisdom we have gained. Thanks for your encouragement!

  4. Joe The Second Says:

    Very nice article. As a business owner I have been a proponent of interviewing and hiring those who are reentering the work force. The effectiveness of these type of professionals is positive related to younger less “life journeyed” professionals.

    Do you see the same frustrations from men who posponed their career to care for the family?

    • IGrewUp Says:

      Well, you are obviously a very enlightened man!

    • IGrewUp Says:

      To address your question re:men and their careers, I do know several men who took a turn off-the-track, so to speak. My observation is they were much better at continuing to dabble in their work while home. Additionally their time away was much shorter than many women that I know. They seem to keep their eye on the career clock a bit better!

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    I love your blog! Someone wrote highlighting your skills of x and y which is a great idea! Who can say they have successfully organized a group of women volunteers to raise $200+ in one event? And all the women “led” were so happy to be working with you. Is it popular to write a list of volunteer positions on your resume and refer to them as “work experience”?

    One strength to mention is bringing out the best in people. I am realizing in your blog, that women who have taken time off do have experience that can be utilized in a workplace setting. It just needs to rehearsed and worded it correctly.

    I’ll keep reading and look forward to your next entry.

    • IGrewUp Says:

      What a great support people like you are to “the searchers”. We just have to believe its all good on the other side of this process! Thanks for reading and commenting….

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