October 16, 2013
IT job seeking for the mature candidate
I have three friends who are looking for tech jobs. Their biggest challenge: They are older than 50.
All of them have up-to-date experience in technology, so they have cleared one of the greatest hurdles most older workers face. But they all have the same questions: What companies or organizations in the tech field hire mature workers, and how can they make themselves more professionally enticing?
As a government organization, the University of Washington tends to value seniority and experience, if it is up to date. The caveat is that it is a government employer, with all the pros and cons that go with that. On the private side, Costco is known for valuing experience and maturity and not "screening out" candidates.
As paradoxical as it might seem, many tech startups will actively seek more experienced and senior professionals, especially women, to balance out their generally young workforce. One of the biggest professional "wants" from the millennial generation is mentoring. Having more mature workers, in both staff and management roles, also helps balance out startups whose youthful leaders may not have a lot of business acumen.
To make yourself an attractive candidate to IT companies, keep up with recruiting and hiring trends and tools. I recently helped a friend who had been at the same company for more than 15 years make a change. My first piece of advice to him was to get rid of his AOL email account. You want your first impression to include an email address that shows you are not living in the '90s.
Nowadays, having a vanity domain/email costs less than $10/month. If you don't have your own domain name, then at the very least have an updated email address for job seeking. Gmail is the preferred email provider for the tech crowd, but anything web-based is fine.
Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and make sure it gives potential employers an idea of your specific skills and positions. Don't just list companies, titles and dates. And include a photo; black and white is more forgiving than color.
If you really want to make an impression, create an online bio page on a site such as about.me. You should have an active Twitter, Tumblr or Reddit account that you can reference. Bonus points if you have a blog or a curated website that refers to your professional interests, such as a Pinterest board or a portal for articles relevant to your field.
If you are on the highly technical side (e.g., a developer), you should be on GitHub and maybe SourceForge. If you are interested in the startup world, attend some Meetups or events such as Startup Weekend or other startup community activities.
Most important, start joining conversations in relevant LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook groups. A great deal of networking is digital, especially in the tech field, so you need to gain some online recognition among your potential future colleagues.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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