In the May 14, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader tells how he landed a job with more money, more vacation, in short order — at age 58:

I just wanted to tell you that I got a new job. Though I got this job by responding to a posting on LinkedIn, I used some of your methods during the process.

over-50This employer required a personality test, a cognitive test, a panel interview, and a puzzle test. I had to figure out a problem during the panel interview. I also had one extra interview with the vice president. Your typical HR-centric process.

So, what did I do that followed your advice? To be honest, I was a bit upset at the testing process, but this seemed a little useless since it was a requirement and I passed all the tests easily. I decided that I would make a quick package to show how I would do the job.

  • I created an outline of how I would approach the job.
  • I defined a process called a “Business Intelligence Baseline” that I would do on my first weeks on the job.
  • I enclosed a sample of a similar project I had done for another employer.
  • I also included a quick summary of a conference I went to on Big Data, because I knew that this firm was looking to get into Big Data.

I sent it to the VP.

I was offered the job with a slight raise and twice as much vacation time as my previous employer. (I should have gotten your salary book to help me with negotiations!)

Well, I don’t think that is the “it” job. It is the “for now” job.

Now I am going to start doing the process you recommend. I am going to do the networking and the other things you suggest. I like the point you make in How Can I Change Careers? that a person should be doing this all the time. When I need to move on, I will be ready.

To put this all in context, I was laid off from my job on March 22. I contacted these people on April 9, and got a formal offer on April 30. I just want to thank you so much. I will continue to follow you online and via subscription. I am not expecting a response. I just want you to know that on this pass I have been only a fair disciple of your methods. I promise next time I will do better. Thanks again.

Your “only fair” disciple,

Andy Hoyt

PS — September 14 is my 59th birthday!

Nick’s Reply

Your story needs no reply, no advice from me. Just a hearty congratulations! Thanks for sharing it. Readers sometimes ask me for a “template” they can follow to their next job offer. You’re 59 — theoretically almost unemployable. Your template works! (Those looking for more about this, please check The Basics.)

I wish you the best, and I hope you’ll stay in touch to tell us about your next job offer…!

I’d love to hear from job hunters who try an approach similar to Andy’s. The steps closely follow what we discuss on Ask The Headhunter. Andy showed how he’d do the job! Do you know anyone who made a deal like this one happen?

: :

  1. I am impressed and encouraged by Andy’s experience. However, as someone who just joined the ranks of the 50 somethings, I am offended that you would label us as “old-timers.”

  2. Hi Nick:

    I’ve been following your blog and advice for years. When I was laid off from a big pharma company, I panicked naturally from the pressure of needing to meet my financial responsibilities. However, I took a breath, adjusted my thinking and went to work on my next opportunity. Using your advice and methods, similar to Donald, I did land my next and current position that I have been in for 2 years. During the search process, each company that I identified and researched and presented to offered me a position. The first one I accepted was my right now job. Then I found the “it” job that I have now. For those non-believers, your methods work. I even used your “How to Work with Headhunters” for one position. Keep up the good work. My next job will be joining you on the beach!

    PS: I’m celebrating the 31st anniversary of my 25th birthday!

  3. Every newly-minted college graduate should read Andy’s story and learn from it. I doubt that most of them learned these strategies from their professors.

    Well done, Sir.

  4. @Donald: You left out part of the quote. Here’s what I actually wrote:

    “Know any old timers (!) who got a job recently?”

    The exclamation point is intended to reveal my ire at the term and the attitude of some employers. I think that comes through. I use terms like that while shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Sorry if that didn’t come through to you. I meant no offense.

  5. @Josie: Man, you’re old and working! :-)

    (Pls see my “explanation” about my choice of words in my reply to Donald.)

    Thanks for your very kind words. You’re proof that delivering profitable work and “showing the green” can trump the grey. My compliments to you AND to your “it” employer! You made my day.

  6. ‘ve been in my current job almost 20 years, still like it a lot, and have a great boss. But I needed a change and wanted to do more writing and critical thinking and less research. I’m probably older than most people thinking about job changes. About a year ago I applied for and was offered the job of my dreams. A key person in the chain of command hadn’t been hired yet, and since much of my work would have been under that person, I turned the job down. I did the right thing opting for the secure job I like, and I learned a really valuable lesson in the process of those three interviews. If your age doesn’t matter to you, it probably won’t matter to anyone else. The people who interviewed me reacted to my energy, not numbers. A very wise speaker once said, “My age is none of my business,” an adage I hold close.

  7. Age is relative. I had a cousin in his 80’s with a spouse also in her 80s. He had an aunt in her early 100’s. When talking with them she always referred to them as “you kids”
    Employers make their life harder. It’s about ability stupid. It’s hard enough to get that right without complicating it with stereo types.
    @Donald…I’m an old timer..I’m 74, and picked up my job at 69. Job hunting over 50 is just a bit more challenging, over 60 character building, but at least not bogged down by the heavy lifting those old timers of 100 have.
    For you job hunters over 100 my apologies for calling you old timers.

  8. Of course, he landed this job and it comes as no surprise. I congratulate the employer too for recognizing talent.

    Today business people who want the job done and done right the first time around know men (and women) over 45 are far more intelligent, sophisticated, skilled, and serious than their younger peers today.

    I would take a 70-year-old executive secretary with 35 plus years’ experience over some 25-year-old multi-degree simpleton who wants to sit all day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and whatever else we view as time wasting amusement largely for simpleminded people she can find. I know, as a fact, we will not look at anyone who is not deadly serious and who is clearly addicted to technology, especially a slave to social media.

    In my opinion, a business or businessman worth his weight knows his employees represent him and his firm. I want knowledge of proper etiquette (both social and business) and someone that is ethical and reliable with a mind. My business partner and I just agreed that we would seriously consider people of those qualities mentioned above (largely meaning those way over age 45) when hiring.

    As Nick said, this one requires no comment. It is ripe for personal comment and congratulations.

  9. As a full-time educator and part-time piano teacher I have found it hard to adjust to the “new” way of finding employment, especially for us babyboomers. I remember times when all it took was a “skill” to get a job and now it’s taking numerous tests. The world has changed and us new to the “tech world” better get used to it or be left behind.

  10. I am so glad that he got the job! Nick’s post shows that there is at least one employer out there who decided to be sensible and let the letter writer show him what he could do rather than relying upon a battery of psycho tests, personality tests (though the personality tests can be useful, but in a self-assessment way, or for a business consultant, but not as a screening tool), computer software, algorithms, and other screening tools.

    At my current job, there is a full time opening. They posted the job, and I heard from one of my colleagues that there were 87 applicants (though I don’t know if there was any preliminary screening done by a computer). He said that they were able to automatically eliminate 6 applicants because they didn’t meet one or more of the requirements, including 2 internal applicants (meaning wider college internal applicants–both of them lacked the necessary master’s degree(s) and experience–one is currently working in IT and has complained to the dean about being eliminated. The dean told her “this is a professional reference librarian position–we REQUIRE applicants to have either an MLS or an MILS (Master’s in Library Science or Master’s in Information and Library Science) degree from an ALA-accredited institution, a minimum of three years’ full time professional work experience in reference, have experience in web design, and more. You aren’t even close.” This did not go over well with the IT person, but the college administration is backing our dean. Two of my colleagues are applying for it. I’ve heard that they’re going to interview 8 people, including the 2 internal part time reference librarians, and that the way they handle the interview is to give the interviews “problems” so they can demonstrate how they’d solve them. When I heard that, I asked the dean and one of the other full time reference librarians if they followed Nick’s blog. I got blank looks, but I smiled to myself because that is exactly the kind of interview I’d want–give me a problem or problems so I can show you how I’d solve them. One of my colleagues told me that she’s nervous about it because she’s never had an interview like that, and I told her all of the ways this is the BEST kind of interview. And I told her to think about every weird patron and question and plan how she’d answer and deal with them. That’s her interview.

  11. I’m a volunteer director and the organization is hiring a summer student. I’m definitely using the ATH website and blogs ideas to interview the future candidates.

    And well done Andy!

  12. I, too, was 58 when I lost my job. At 62, I’m surviving my survival job quite well.

    Normally, I stay away from Fox News as far as possible, but a link led me to their business reporting website, so my unconscious mind reasoned that not even Fox News could do too much damage to business reporting, so I carefully read the post.

    It seems that companies and corporations have discovered that they need the experience and “acumen” of “mature workers” after all, and have begun rolling out the welcome mat after unceremoniously hanging up the GO AWAY sign in the help wanted ads for the last twenty years.

    On one hand, this is good news; one the other hand, as one of my age-range counterparts making $120K a year said in an AARP article, “I didn’t grow stupid just because I lost my job.”

    Please bear with me while I briefly recap events that led to our age-range’s improved negotiating position.

    December 2007: The Great Financial Fiasco begins.

    2008: Things become noticeably bad.

    2009: Things are really bad, but no one really knows how bad (In March, I lost my high-paying job.)

    2010: Manpower graphs that jobs really did dip below the zero mark in 2009.

    2011: Studies show that the effects of long-term unemployment lower life expectancy.

    2012: Research shows that the longer you keep working, the longer you live.

    2013: Old people are recognized as vital to the success of companies and corporations.

    2014: Old people take revenge by retiring early, not because they have to, but because they refuse to work for unappreciative companies and corporations (unless the compensation returns to its original trajectory—at my projection, at least 5% annually from whenever the compensation was interrupted).

    Back in the 1960’s, when I was an honorary hippie, they called radical people our age Gray Panthers.

    Negotiations in 2014 should prove interesting . . .

    At any rate, things are looking up for people in our “age-range”. Don’t give up hope, because one thing I’ve learned is that relief comes approximately five minutes after you have given up. So don’t give up. Like Nick said once, “There may be 999 no’s, but it only takes one ‘yes’.” That’s what kept me going.

    Congratualtions to all.

  13. I just love all the posts on here. Good stuff as it gives hope and a reminder to what really matters in a job hunt-talent!

  14. Nick,

    Is there an template you used for how you would approach the job?

  15. Sometimes, It is reverse age discrimination. My dad retired (pushed out with a big bonus to pension calculation) from the federal govt at 62 and got a job in the private sector, survived 9 layoffs, decided to retire for good at 85. My mom also worked for the federal govt and retired at 72. She was mostly used as a show piece as a model “mature worker” and pleaded for her to stay on to 75. this was years ago You go figure.

  16. “There may be 999 no’s, but it only takes one ‘yes’.” That’s what kept me going.

    Thanks, I’ll remember that one, it’ll help to keep me going in my search!

  17. Hitting the big 60 this year, I can say that us older folks are exactly what many employers are looking for. While many college grads and other younger generations may have more tech skills, our people skills are far superior. If you have sales skills and people skills you will blow away many of these new “high tech” youngsters.

  18. I am a very “young” 58. I was laid off by Citigroup in late 2012, and have had difficulty getting employment. I am much smarter than my younger counterparts, masterfully articulate, yet have been turned down for every job in the financial services field that I have applied to. ALL THE BIG BANKS. I am weary of what else I can do to become gainfully employed, NOW. Living in Dallas, county Texas is a big issue I believe. I know if I were in New York, San Francisco or other progressive cities, I would be more accepted in the job market. ANY SUGGESTIONS? Thanks

  19. @Anita. I’m not going to say one’s age when you get up there isn’t a factor. It is. I’m nearly 76, so I can opine with some experience behind me.

    But age isn’t always a deal breaker and your challenge is to find out where it isn’t. for instance I’ve been employed where I’m at for over 6 years and got this job when I was nearly 70. I speak from experience. they are there.

    Suggestion 1 is to dig into the archives of Ask The Headhunter, & go beyond this one discussion. There’s a wealth of information on age, but that’s just an informational detour.

    Look for information and insights on how to network, the value of it. Because that’s how you’ll find that place & person who couldn’t care less about your age, but rather as you noted, how smart you are about your profession

    Your best bet for landing is via networking. Networking is the way to go for job hunting per se, but if you have to deal with age..the reality and your perceptions…networking is THE valuable tool for the older job hunter as you need to sell yourself to people, not input to websites and career pages.

    Suggestion 2. With the above research done, start applying it to networking your way into chosen companies…and stop standard operating procedure applying to jobs.

    You’ve already tested the market on job applying and you know that’s not working. Remember the definition of insanity…doing the same thing over & over & expecting different results. You’ve tried the traditional way, just about everyone is doing & it’s not work. You’re long overdue for trying a different approach. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    I’ve had several jobs after 55, and all via networking. And don’t say you don’t have a network, everyone has one. Start from there & build it up.

    Stop looking for jobs, start looking for companies. I know you said you’ve “applied” to all the Big Banks. If you find any that are appealing forget their wish list & forget you applied. Do some research, figure out who/what department where you can add value, capture that value and find your way to the hiring managers & use that value proposition. How? Call them up, email them, snail mail them. make your pitch. this may seem very unappealing, but trust me, I’m a 10th degree black belt introvert. If I can do it, anyone can. It’s an acquired skill.

    Suggestion #3. You said all the BIG Banks, by pass that and aim at the smaller banks, financial institutions. Small is better for networking.

    Suggestion #4. Learn how to deal with recruiters, learn how recruiters work…then be your own recruiter. Good recruiters are good networkers, that’s why they are good, and that’s why they succeed.


  20. @Anita: Don said it all!

  21. Encouraging to read. Thanks!

  22. Total BS!

  23. Okay, 58 year old white male 100% Service Connected Disabled Veteran and told by the VA and FED that I am allowed to work has been looking for a job since graduating college in 1995 at 38 years old. Sad but true, I am the person and I am sick and tired of being told I am young when getting a job is like a greeter at Wal Mart or a Janitor. Give me a break and help the older people don’t just try to sell them BS all the time!

  24. Well…isn’t it nice that one of us over 50 crowd “got work”! when I turned 51 I lost my last job I had for 3 years to a young foreigner here a visa, i am 58 now and never got another FT job in my field, I lost my home, my pets, my furniture, friends …I keep trying and trying to get work, I actually went on an interview this morning? same questions asked “so tell me why you have not had FT work for so many years”? my answer is truthful because we live in an ageist society as being over 50 is like being a felon, a junkie, an outcast,or a F*&^k up!….
    no one will except the real truth???? I am so stressed out so tired of trying and trying to tell people why i’m in this no win end of the road situation? because, if they just excepted the truth that would mean someone has to help me out here!!!!!…and folks today are just not willing they don’t care?
    I have this fantasy of hitting the lottery and seeing all these folks all of a sudden be my best friends that would be worth all the hell i’ve went through just to tell them all to go to hell…

    • @KayBoran:

      I understand.


      I lost my job with IBM in November 2007 at the very beginning of The Great Recession.

      ~15,000 résumés since.

      ~36 jobs fairs in ~ 3 years, each fair averaging ~100 employers .. gave résumés to every employer at every fair. Some fairs drove over ~2 hours to attend.

      Years of unemployment “over 40” support groups. Blind leading blind. After years, useless. And some of the most insufferable jackasses, let me tell you …

      Not one networking story worked out or into a job. Not one. Not one. And I have DOZENS of different networking stories I’m just too tired to go in to here .. but I could tell you some beauts, some doozies …

      Have been
      blown off,
      screwed over,
      lied to,
      discriminated against,
      H1B’d to financial death,
      told overqualified,
      told underqualified,
      told not qualified,
      watched other pros get up to four different permanent pro jobs in the time I have not had even one offer,
      watched some of the most incompetent inept untalented jackasses land unbelievable jobs,
      have listened to and read every “expert” in the book all full of &$%&* for me,
      have kept going for over ~12 years,
      watched the H1B devastate myself and many like me in tech,
      watched hadji H1Bs buying cars and houses and lives while American STEM eek closer and closer to a carboard box under the freeway, all the while my own .gov I am forced and extorted to pay taxes to use that tax dollars to my demise and to destroy the middle class in American through programs like the criminally corrupt H1B and all the illegal hadjis these visas are handed to,
      I’m just too tired to continue to write everything that has happened.

      Sometimes, Nick, just sometimes, for whatever unknown unnatural supernatural reason, no advice and none of anybody’s suggestions are worth a rat’s ass to some people.

      I understand, Kay.

      I truly do.

      I’ve lived it.

  25. this is crap by someone selling something. that’s about all he can teach you “how to screw someone else”

  26. I am 59. College degree and 27 years work experience, mostly government. Unemployed for all but 6 months of last 9 years. Haven’t worked for 4 years. Maintained professional skills as government volunteer.

    Lost home, spouse, animals (owned a horse farm) and I’m sick of never even getting a reply from employers. My resume is excellent and my skills are current.

    -disenchanted and broke.

    • Try signing up with temporary agencies. Agencies like mature, dependable workers with good skills. Many times temporary assignments are long-term and temp-to-hire. Also, try a functional resume over a Chronological. Be encouraged!

  27. Bingo, I am 58 years old, Geologist, and lost my job due to the downturn (Oil price crashing). I have been unemployed for 18 months and I must have sent 250 applications and very few replies. I need a job because I still have a mortgage and costs and I am chewing into my savings which are not a lot. Any ideas?

  28. @Dave. Yes, ASAP get on the main site of A THE Headhunter and dive into the archives. By now you’ve overdone the application route & there’s a lot of good advice about going directly after a company. You’ve got nothing to lose & everything to gain by going at this a different way.

  29. My name dana gay walker need a job to same my home ,, because I had no while to ,,retirement form Jacksonville housing authers,,no one will help me

  30. I don’t no how

  31. can you pleace help me

  32. I believe things happen and come along when they are suppose too. I know Andy Hoyt! the person who kicked this whole thread off! How I wish I knew you then Nick!! We were laid off from the same company!! I now have another skill set and I would like to move on and be back in the executive management ranks where I can best use my skill sets. I have been so down. Up to this point I have done all the things you have recommended in the past but you can let things get the best of you when you are continually turned down. I have been praised for my credentials and impressive experience then told they are going to pass. You know that it is age discrimination. I am a woman of color who does not look her age but my experience and nothing left private any longer do to the internet gives you away immediately. I just had someone recently take my resume in to a company. Hopefully, I will have an opportunity to present what value I can bring to the company. If that does not happen I will just have to start writing to hiring managers, etc. If any other advice please let me know. I am open. I love working. Retirement is not in my vocabulary. Thank you for providing real advice and honest coaching. I found you at the right time!!

    • @Jacquelin: I know how frustrating it is! And bias of idiots makes it worse. But keep in mind that most job “opportunities” go south for most people most of the time — it’s not just you. Don’t lose heart. You need only one YES from one good manager. (Thanks for your kind words!)