Avoid age stereotypes
Career Coach Fiona Wainrit, of Career Mojo, explores how to effectively sell yourself into a job and feel comfortable doing it.
There are loads of articles out there about personal branding and creating your own ‘elevator pitch’, so I’m not going to add to the literature on this. However, I will say that having such tools up your sleeve can give you that extra edge in a job interview. As much as we may not like the idea of having to promote ourselves to potential employers, nowadays, it’s an expected reality.
There are many different ways to ‘sell yourself’ in an interview. I’ve noticed a distinct difference to how various generations will tackle this. Whilst you may be against generalisations, society does cast certain views about how they expect each generation to behave in the workplace.
So how does the job market view your generation and what can you do to avoid any negative stereotypes being made?
For starters, Baby Boomers seem to have a lot of trouble talking up their strengths. They were raised in an era where they were taught to be humble and not big note themselves. Their generation coined the phrase “tall poppy syndrome”, where one stood out for being different. Baby Boomers tend to stay loyal to an industry or employer. When such individuals find themselves back in the job market, they struggle to feel comfortable promoting themselves, fearing they may come across as arrogant.
TIP – Discuss actual achievements in regard to work experience. Try mentioning how a colleague described you to outline your strengths. Think about how you can use your experience, networks, industry knowledge and loyalty to really add value.
On to Gen X’s. Whilst they understand the importance of hard work to progress their careers, they’re also a bit more marketing savvy when it comes to the concept of ‘selling themselves’.
TIP – In an interview, illustrate your journey and the steps taken to get to your current position. Highlight your willingness to learn, and if you’re in a leadership role, display an interest in mentoring and supporting others in the team.
On the flipside, Gen Y is known to be the generation who were told they could be anything and do anything. Such affirmations tend to encourage individualism over community. On the plus side, it’s also encouraged a sea of young and inspired entrepreneurs.
This embellished praise is reflected in certain traits, such as having no qualms in talking themselves up, along with a burning desire to rapidly progress within organisations. If you don’t want to fall into any negative stereotype, there needs to be some balance between promoting yourself and sounding egotistical.
TIP – Be humble when talking through your achievements. Explain why you are interested in working for the organization and what you can offer (eg. energy, a fresh perspective, knowledge of social media/technology). Make it clear you are willing to work hard and learn from others.
Whilst you may not personally fit into a certain stereotype, the person interviewing you may already have you ‘boxed’. The challenge you face is proving you don’t fit that mould by displaying your uniqueness and what you can offer the organisation. Rather then viewing stereotypes as a negative, why not think about how you can turn common viewpoints around by using them to your advantage? Bare in mind, a variety of age groups and demographics is key to organisational success. What will you add to the mix?