AAMI News October 2018

Career Center: How Older Workers Can Position Themselves for Jobs

With mergers, acquisitions, and realignments, older workers (60+) may find themselves looking for new jobs—or wanting to come back into the workforce after retirement. Experts at two talent acquisition and placement firms that specialize in the healthcare  technology management industry say there are ample opportunities for biomedical professionals as the labor market tightens, despite perceptions of age discrimination. Many employers value experienced talent.

The key to landing a new position is focusing on skills and attitude, not age, according to Jenifer Brown, president and owner of Health Tech Management, LLC, in Virginia Beach, VA, and Cindy Stephens, CPC/CTS, president and CEO of Stephens International Recruiting, Inc., of Lakeview, AR.

Q How can older workers compete in the  job market?

Cindy Stephens You need to stand out in today’s competitive job market, regardless of age. Stay active, presentable, and dedicated to the field. Be energetic and enthusiastic rather than take a laid-back approach to life and career. Employers want employees who are able to react quickly to situations, are detail oriented, and are current in their technical skills as well as their communication and management skills. Reliability, stability, and loyalty are very important as well as strong leadership skills.

Continue to take ongoing continuing education courses, and ensure technical skills keep up with technology. Show you remain connected in your career field by maintaining involvement in technical associations and organizations.

Jenifer Brown Be flexible about relocating, salary, and job levels. You narrow your options if you aren’t willing to move or accept a lower salary than you have now or had in your last job. If you’re a regional director-level at a hospital, you aren’t going to get that same base salary at a single site. If you’re not willing to accept that, you shouldn’t apply for that level job in the first place. If you’re willing to make that compromise, you could get the job and even move back up to that level.

People who are in their sixties should let employers know up front how long they want to work. Employers cannot legally ask that question, but it takes a lot to train you on their equipment or their culture or process—and they don’t want you to turn around a year or two later and leave. Put it right out there in your cover letter, résumé highlights or summary, and interview that you are willing to work another five years or seven to 10 years.

Q Do you have any tips for resumes and interviews?

Jenifer Brown The goal of a résumé is not to get the job, it’s to get the interview. It depends on the candidate, but if you’re a management candidate with 30 or 35 years of experience, you don’t need to go all the way back to when you were a technician. It’s also a good idea to update your résumé regularly, even if you’re not looking, with education, certifications, and, for managers, projects. I’ve seen people who haven’t updated their résumés in 20 years.

During an interview, show a high level of enthusiasm and energy. Recently, a candidate asked, “Do you think my age is going to be an issue?” And I said, “No, not as long as you don’t feel it’s an issue.” That’s the mindset you need to have.

Cindy Stephens Ensure your résumé is current and reflects accomplishments and level of experience for the position. Highlight skill sets that are most valuable to the position, especially up-to-date technical skills. List recent jobs during the past 10 years. However, list relevant experience and jobs from earlier years in your career without the specific dates. Ensure your résumé is professional-looking. Use formats that can be easily transmitted and uploaded into human resource systems.

During an interview, display a positive attitude and flexible capabilities. Demonstrate a sincere commitment to the career field, highlighting your successful track record and accomplishments that put you above the rest.

Q What about an online social presence?

Jenifer Brown Our industry heavily uses LinkedIn, so make sure your profile is up to date. Have a professional photo and make sure your personal email is professional. Also, some email addresses give away your age, like Yahoo! Get Gmail.