It is a common and somewhat justified belief among executives closing in on their 60th birthdays, that their age is working against them.
They typically respond by revising their resumes — leaving off their college graduation date, preparing a topical resume (don’t get me started on my distaste for those) or picking an arbitrary date to start their career history on their resume, hoping the reader will think they fall within the coveted 45-50 years old sweet spot of recruiters.
Do people really think savvy recruiters and hiring managers won’t understand that executives are embarrassed by their age and see it as a disadvantage?
While there are undoubtedly companies who want to hire executives who will remain with them for 20 years and may not be interested in someone who has rounded the proverbial “third base” of their careers, other companies will value the wisdom and experience of a seasoned executive. Mega law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, just completed a search for an Executive Director by hiring a 60+-year old candidate. So how does an “older” executive level the playing field? Much of it is about attitude and being current.
So what does “being current” mean?
Embrace Social media. While younger executives may not be able to match your experience, they instinctively understand technology and the role social media plays in today’s business world. Executives who pretend that Facebook and Twitter have nothing to do with them should do so at their own peril. We strongly urge every executive to have a LinkedIn profile with a professional headshot that clearly communicates, “I get LinkedIn” and the value of networking. While Facebook participation is more optional, we recommend that executives maintain a Facebook page, whether they use it or not. It is simply another way of staying current. Even if you truly don’t understand social media, don’t denigrate it at every opportunity. The people who say, “I’m not really good at this technology thing,” place themselves firmly in the old fogies category.
Network on an individual basis. You should know your peers at competing organizations on a first name basis. If your peers are retiring, ask for an introduction to his or her replacement. Staying connected through online groups also keeps you informed about who is relevant in the industry.