Job Hunting for the Experienced Candidate

Recently, the Project Management Institute announced that 15.7 million new project management roles will be created worldwide by 2020.  Wow!  Considering how competitive the PM landscape has become, that is some great news for all of us!  However, for some the jobs can’t come soon enough.  Many have been out of work for months and even years.  One particular group is the ‘experienced’ or ‘senior’ talent on the market.  Some time ago, I asked what topics do YOU want me to write about in 2013 and a few asked about this challenge.  “As someone with 20+ years of PM experience, how do I compete with the ‘younger’ candidates out there?”

While I have reviewed & interviewed hundreds of emails and their respective candidates, I wanted to tap into a few industry leaders to give you the best guidance in this competitive marketplace.  Below are some tips from  Kendra Andrews, Dir. Of Recruiting at HireNetworks with 17 years of experience, as well as Jeff Lipschultz.  In addition to being featured in Money Magazine, U.S. News & Report, and several other outlets; Jeff has crossed the United States on a bicycle (3,280 miles) in 2010.

What are common mistakes made by ‘Experienced’ candidates?

Andrews says “The biggest mistake I see is people who don’t keep their resumes current because “it worked before.” I get resumes that still include height/weight and marital status, even though it’s been since at least the 80s when that was last the norm. I get resumes that scream that the person doesn’t know how to use Word, which is a kiss of death in today’s market. Believe it or not, I still get text resumes from time to time.  Also still get a few faxes.”

In his blog post Managing the Age Issue with Recruiters: Age as an Asset or a Liability, Lipschultz explains “Older job seekers are quick to be discouraged about how they are turned down for a job assuming they are “too old” or “overqualified.” When this happens a lot to someone I know, my first question to them is: “Are you applying to the right jobs?” You need to be applying for jobs that require more experience instead of trying to shoehorn yourself into a job that can be filled by someone with less.

With such talk about social media and innovation, are ‘experienced’ workers really at a disadvantage or is this a misnomer?

If it is a factor, what would you suggest for a few immediate actions? There’s a recruiter I know who is well into his 60s but he has to be the most connected social media person I know. He’s got to be at 20,000 LinkedIn connections and he was the first adapter for Twitter for recruiting among my circle. So the concept that social media and seasoned worker don’t go hand-in-hand is a misnomer, but someone who doesn’t embrace what’s out there will seem unable to change with the times. Not saying a person suddenly has to set up a twitter account and tweet that they are heading to the grocery store every day, but a job seeker in anything professional who doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile automatically has a ding against them in the eyes of many recruiters/HR professionals.

Can you share the top skills your clients or the industry is asking for in 2013?

Kendra went on to share that her focus is on technology, so “Cloud, mobile and open source are all hot.”

The resume…1 page, 2 page? Some of folks have 30 years of experience!

The following guidance was provided by Ms. Andrews “Never 1 page unless right out of school. Someone with 30 years of experience is doing themselves a disservice if they try to boil it down to 1 page. Within the technical world, 2 pages is the minimum and anything up to 4 is normal. What I focus on is if the résumé is a page turner more than length. If someone reads it and goes, “And?” it probably didn’t have the right information in it. Resumes should follow an upside down pyramid when putting them together. The further you go back the less you should say about a job. Does it matter that 35 years ago you made copies if you are CFO now? Who cares that you started with DOS or used to use Lotus 1-2-3?”

Does the job search strategy differ for a junior candidate vs. an experienced candidate?

In the post referenced above, Lipschultz reiterates the needs to stay hungry.  “You need to be as ambitious as you were when you first entered the workforce. You need to project this during interviews. Let the interviewer know why you’re excited about the opportunity and what you can bring to company.  This is the same advice for everyone, but sometimes, older candidates can appear as if they are just trying to find any job that will carry them along for five, ten, or more years.”

Andrews goes on to state “There are two main areas of differences to the experienced person’s advantage. Experienced candidates should have more people to network with to find a job, which circles back to question (Lipschulz also states this in his post… “Your key advantage in the job search: your network of relationships. The longer you’ve been in the workforce, the more people you know.”) 2. They can set up a LinkedIn profile and really put it to work, where junior people don’t have that. Overall, I think it boils down to more experienced people needing to show they are flexible, have kept up with the times and are young at heart. That isn’t to say that they have to be childlike, but make sure they are fresh. Several of the things I’ve mentioned above about putting non-EEOC compliant information on resumes or not knowing how to use Word really move the impression from the person being someone who will bring great knowledge to the company to someone that will need a lot of ramp up time just to be modern. A person can have great skills but if they show up in a tie that is 20 years old the first impression is that they are stale.”



I want to thank both Kendra and Jeff for their insight and encourage you to connect with them:


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