Tried-and-true routines, expansive knowledge of established processes, and detailed industry knowledge – as a competent applicant with extensive work experience, you have a lot to offer an employer. You also know to avoid many mistakes that entry-level applicants still have yet to make. Frame your experience as your most valuable capital. When you’re applying at age 45, it’s important to make your experience count!
Before You Start Your Journey, Define Your Destination
What factors are the most important to you at a new job? Do you want to continue your career path, or are you searching for a new professional direction? How much responsibility do you want? What are your salary expectations, and how important is income in your decision?
You should have an answer in mind for each of these questions, before you start applying for positions. It’s important to have an idea of your exact requirements and desires for a new position from the start – then your search for a new job will make sense, and you can better decide what career opportunities fit you best. As a next step, identify the employers that can offer you the right type of career opportunity, and consider how you can properly utilize your experience and knowledge for these positions.
Don’t Formulate Your Cover Letter Like This…
Highly qualified candidates 45 or older, with relevant work experience in leadership positions or middle management, shouldn’t shy away from their own accomplishments. So refrain from referring to your age as a potential issue, or acting as though you need to prove yourself. The following phrases carry a negative connotation and infer that applicant isn’t very confident, so avoid using these at all costs:
Example: “With my 48 years of life experience, it’s very important that …”
This phrasing is a clear reference to the applicant’s age, completely unnecessarily. Rather than mentioning the relevant competencies and skills of the applicant, the focus is instead shifted to her life experience – this says nothing about her professional know-how! Furthermore, it’s of little importance to the organization what the applicant requires for her next position – it’s much more interesting for them to know how they can benefit from her wisdom and experience. Choose a better format that highlights your work experience, and mention concrete examples of professional successes: “As a Senior Marketing Manager, I’ve planned and implemented several diverse projects and campaigns – through these experiences, I’ve developed strong relationships with agencies and clients, as well as…”
Example: “I’d like to use this chance to start over in my career…”
As an older applicant, you want to appear motivated – so motivated that you’ll blow any other younger candidates out of the water. But a sentence like this says something entirely different about you: it says that you’re dissatisfied with your professional path, to this point. Why else would it be important to you that you “start over?” This also raises the question of why you haven’t taken the initiative to make this sort of change until now. Avoid speaking poorly of your previous experience in your application. Rather, you should take this opportunity to maximize the value of your career: “I’d love to bring the experience I’ve acquired throughout my career, and implement my knowledge with your company…”
You should also take the chance to sell your age and experience as a benefit. Rather, use phrases and sentence structures that focus on your experience and your successes to this point. Thereby, you should also avoid portraying yourself as a “Jack-of-all-trades,” or an “all-rounder.” At this point in your career, you should have developed a few key points that you consider to be your strengths, assets that you can bring to your next company. Your client or industry network could also be very interesting for a new employer – or contacts in other companies? When you’re applying at age 45 for a new position, don’t shy away from discussing your strengths that you’ve spent years learning and perfecting. Formulate them appropriately in your cover letter, and give it your best shot.
Skip The Extras, like “Learning Biographies” and “Additional Trainings”
Is it important to make your application stand out from the rest? Yes, it should certainly come across as head and shoulders above the other applicants. But as a senior candidate, applying at age 45, your experience will make the difference. Your other application documents should also meet the most current and contemporary standards – to this point, it’s also important to make sure that each application is specifically tailored to each company, rather than a template or Copy+Paste formula letter. But you don’t need the extra bells and whistles that young applicants sometimes use to supplement their applications. Some resources recommend that older applicants include a special kind of resume that highlights all of their trainings, learnings, and education. Surely, the inclusion (or benefit) or such an extra is simply a question of taste – some recruiters may appreciate these documents, and some may laugh and discard them. But it’s safe to say that including too many extras in an application may reek of desperation, or overcompensation. Rather, we’d recommend integrating all of your “additional trainings” within your resume. Remember, less is more!
The Final Boost: Seal the Deal in Your Interview
After submitting a perfect application, you’ve received an invitation for an interview. The employer is interested, and you can be sure that your age is no hindrance to your success. If you still have concerns, consider the current situation in the job market: employers are desperately seeking talented employees, and qualified leaders are in high demand. Previously, older applicants may not have been so attractive. But now, they’ve got a better chance of finding a position. Why? Recent studies have shown that inter-generational teams are more successful, and innovative. More companies than ever want to take advantage of this kind of super team, and benefit from candidates with experience like yours. Applying at age 45 is no longer a struggle – it’s a point in your favor!
About Marieke Arcadi
After completing her studies, where she focused on German literature and studies, Marieke Arcadi took her skills and interests in technology, and began working in marketing and SEO for several companies and agencies. Currently, she works as a teacher in the public school system, and gives seminars at the University of Hamburg. When her professional schedule allows it, Marieke enjoys traveling, and learning more about foreign cultures and languages.