I hear this constantly. I can’t compete with younger candidates. I’m too old. I’ve got too much experience. I’ve been self-employed most of my career, so who would hire me? I’m too expensive.
To quote Donald Sutherland “Oddball” in Kelley’s Heroes “Negative Thinking…Moriarty…Negative thinking.”
What he was saying is simply you believe that you've been defeated before you even try. If you don’t think you stand a chance of getting through then you never will. Sun Tzu and ”The Art of War”
Want to level the playing field and gain a distinct advantage over younger and cheaper competition, then I strongly suggest that you pick up a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. If you haven’t read it and are looking for a new job you should. It’s not only about business dealings and negotiations it also applies directly to getting the job of your dreams.
Sun Tzu deals with the exact obstacles that those men and women over 50 believe they face in the job market.
In his book he describes the value of creativity, planning, choosing the terrain, using propaganda, maneuvering past obstacles and how to be a successful general leading forces to victory, whether they be superior or inferior.
For those of us over 50, his philosophy and coupled with our experience should put us way ahead of our competition, if only we can accept that change is necessary to succeed and understanding that doing what everyone else is doing is not going to get you the job you desire.
You've got to take control!
You pick the ground. You pick the time. You decide whether you need to charge straight ahead, flank or retreat and regroup.
You've got to do your homework and scout the employer’s strengths and weaknesses.
Most importantly, you need someone on the inside who can give you the knowledge you need to succeed. Find those who will help you in your quest and keep you aware of all factors not known outside the company or department.
“What is called “foreknowledge” cannot be elicited from spirits, nor from gods, nor by analogy with past events, nor from calculations. It must be obtained from men who know the enemy situation.” Sun Tzu, Chapter 13, The Employment of Secret Agents:
What does all mean? If you approach your job search the way your employer expects or assumes that you’ll approach then you've lost before you even take the field.
The only question you should have to ask is “When do I start?