Have you had obstacles thrown in your career path, and did you overcome them? These are common issues facing job seekers, so let’s discuss some of the key ones that I have heard about recently.
Perceived Age Discrimination
True age discrimination is illegal, but anyone over a certain age might have felt that it has happened to him or her, or might fear that it will. Or, a relatively young person or someone with a young appearance might have felt that they weren’t considered strong or mature enough for a position. True leadership talent in the health IT industry is not age-based. Hiring managers are looking for key accomplishments such as proven people and project management skills; technical know-how; great interpersonal skills and relationship building abilities. It is a mixture of hard and soft skills. Here are some ideas to help you around this obstacle and avoid being filtered out of a position you are qualified for:
- Make sure your last 10 years of employment are prominent on the first and second pages of your resume; include at least eight accomplishments.
- Describe your past employers on your resume, and your key accomplishments in bulleted action phrases; mirror words and phrases found in the position description or job posting.
- Include all employment on your resume (though you can compress earlier jobs into a smaller section); exclude your degree dates, which you can disclose in the interview or verification process.
- Strive for a formal business look during interviews or videos; have a professional photo taken for your Linked In profile; remove all potentially embarrassing or immature material from Twitter, Facebook, or other social sites that you frequent.
- Use your age and experience to your advantage — an excellent track record is an advantage and previous good performances can open doors. Emotional intelligence, high energy and excellent interpersonal skills can be advantageous at any age. Be technically up-to-date, exude self-confidence but not haughty.
Short Job Stints or Gaps In Employment
Seeking employment with gaps or several recent short (1-2 years) job stints on your resume can be difficult. You could have legitimate reasons for the short stints or gaps. I like to discuss the job transitions with candidates to find out the reasons for the short tenure on some jobs listed on their resumes. Some reasons for short job stints or gaps include:
- Recent recession caused job loss
- New C-Suite caused a turnover
- Organization was sold, merged or closed
- Start-up failed (dot-com boom/bust)
- Family issues; needed to move near family
- Followed boss to new job
- Job eliminated
- Went back to school
You can best overcome perceptions of job-hopping by being honest and looking for positions that can get you back on track. This could mean taking a different path like becoming a consultant, working for an association, or forming your own company. Establish some longevity with your next role; five years is an excellent job stint in health IT. Network and talk to previous employers to see if they would welcome you back. Be open to relocation and talk to an executive recruiter.
I’ll discuss more obstacles and potential remedies in my next career management article.