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Academy of Learning College Blog

Who would have thought that being 45 years old or better would classify you as an older worker? It’s an common issue many mature workers will experience today because employers seem to take age as a hiring factor into consideration. Job applicants older than a certain age often have to overcome barriers they didn’t face when they were younger.

Many older job seekers get discouraged by this situation. However, there are strategies you could incorporate in your interviews to turn your disadvantage into advantage. The secret to win at a job interview is to present yourself as an optimal combination of what you are and what the employer is looking for: an energetic, lifetime learner who knows the industry well, keeps up with technology and can communicate effectively with colleagues of all ages. Here’s how to prepare:

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Consider your experience an asset.  

Think about it, you have years or decades of precious experience that younger workers don’t have, which brings you to a higher standpoint. One way to capitalize on this asset is to bring a portfolio of relevant projects to your interview and make it a interactive show-and-tell experience for both you and the interviewer. Also be prepared to discuss some of the problems and challenges which the company might face in their projects and any possible solutions that you envision.

During the interview, give as much detail as possible about your past experience to paint a full picture of your abilities. Present your skill sets that are inline with the requirements for the job. Be sure to give specific examples of any similar work you’ve done in the past, the processes you’ve implemented, and the projects you’ve worked on. Showcase Your successes, and demonstrate how you overcame obstacles in your past work experience as well. But be careful, you do not want to age your experiences by giving specific dates for jobs you’ve done, especially when that job is from 20 years ago. Also, you definitely don’t need to start from the beginning of your career; only talk about experiences that are relative to the job you are applying for.

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Do your research 

Prepare to explain why you want to work for this organization. Interviewers are often intrigued to see what attracts potential candidates to their company. Check out the company’s website, study any current projects or campaigns they’re working on, and initiate conversations with some intelligent questions about the position or observations about the firm. You can even talk about how this company (or any projects they’re pursuing) has inspired you or your family and friends, how this industry inspires you and how you’ve developed a passion in it.

It is very important to conduct a thorough research on the company before attending a interview. There are a large number of networks such Google, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed where you could gather as much information as possible about the prospective employer, its leadership team and the organization culture. Pre-interview research is a chance for you to learn about the specific challenges of the role you’ll be performing, and how your skills and experiences can help the organization master the challenges in their industry.

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Show your ability with technologies

Oddly but understandably, older workers are often stereotyped as “resistant to change” or “unable to use digital technology”. During the interview, tell the interviewers about any creative ideas you produced that improved your previous employer’s productivity on certain projects or made the company more efficient. If possible, give an example of a project where you handled in a way that may not be perceived as the standard process for handling it, but was more effective than usual. If you are actively bettering yourself by learning about new technologies in this digital world, this is a perfect time to talk about the computer class you are attending, or the Microsoft Office workshops you are undertaking, or other ways you have kept your skills up to date throughout your career.

Most jobs have developed a technological profile in this digital age. Employers are looking for candidates with the latest skills, but they may fear that older workers are not able to keep up with technology trends as well as younger workers. Make sure you know what kind of technologies are most valued or commonly used in your target industry, take steps to master it and be ready to share how you have applied this technology to your work.

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Overqualified? Older than the management? Address those issues. 

If you are downshifting your career, as many older workers do, employers may view you as being overqualified for the job you’re applying for. You can outplay this conservative perception by clearly describing your enthusiasm for the specific duties associated with the job you’re applying for. It will help if you can reference how satisfying it was for you to carry out similar functions in your past experiences. 

On the other hand, although equipped with more experience, you might need to report to a manager who’s younger than you. Some employers have concerns about the willingness of older workers to take direction from younger supervisors. As a mature worker, you need to show your willingness to work for a younger manager. When asked about your ideal supervisor or management, reassure interviewers by sharing examples of how you have thrived under the direction of younger managers.

As the largest career college in Canada with 50 campuses across the country,  Academy of Learning College attributes the growth in our success to identifying the gap between the formal education available and the realities of the working world. We fulfill the needs of learners by developing customized programs for each student, while meeting the requirements for convenient and effective training at an affordable cost. Browse our program list by province and find the best program that suits your needs!

Confident older business woman

Whether you’ve decided to return to college to pursue a new career or boost your current skill set, you certainly are not alone in your endeavor. It is very common for professionals who are not satisfied with their current jobs to look at going back to school for a new career as a next-step. According to National Center for Education Statistics, of the 21 million people who enrolled in post-high school education programs, 2.3 million are between the ages of 40 and 64. However, if you’re not employed while completing your continue education, or if there are significant gaps in your employment history, you need to sit down and brainstorm how you should present yourself in a resume.

There is age discrimination out there, but the good news is that more and more employers are recognizing the value of hiring “silver” workers. Many companies soon will face a shortage of workers due to the retirement of many baby-boomers. They also recognize the work ethic, wisdom and experience an older worker can bring to the workplace. As a mature worker, use these factors to your benefit. 

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Create a Functional Resume

Choosing a resume format is  a very critical decision for 40-plus job seekers. In order to avoid any possible age discrimination, many experts suggest setting a time limit on work history. Experience more than 10 years old is irrelevant, because the working world has changed so much from what you learned from 10 years ago. When it comes to your education, your diploma or degree may be perceived as “out-dated” if they were received 20 years ago. In order to avoid these kind of perceptions on your resume, you could include dates on a time-limited work history but omit them from your resume’s education section (unless you’ve recently continued your education). 

If you’re an adult job-seeker, you may want to consider breaking away from the typical chronological resume format and create what is known as a “functional” resume. This type of resume allows you to group your skills into different categories while shifting the focus away from the actual years of employment. For instance, if you’re applying for a management position, you could create a section entitled “management experience” and list any skills you’ve acquired from previous jobs. This format helps to highlight your skills while downplaying gaps in your resume. Please see above for an example of functional resume, and discover more on how to write a functional resume

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Use a Cover Letter to Explain

One of the most effective tools for explaining gaps in employment on your resume is the cover letter. When applying to a position, use cover letter to briefly explain why you’ve decided to return to school, what your diploma or degree is going to be in and when you are expecting to graduate. Briefly and generally explain what circumstances led you to pursue a new career and new education in your 30s/40s/50s, and include how your age, life experience and level of maturity will certainly be an asset to any employer who offers you a position. Also, be sure to express in your cover letter about your flexibility, adaptability, and willingness to learn.

On the other hand, try your best to avoid cumulative experience statements. You don’t want to turn your cover letter into a autobiography letter. No matter how proud your are of your work histories, dropping too many lines on your 25 years of experience in a particular industry in your cover letter may present you as either overqualified, or out-dated in the current job market. Overly detailed claims of long-time experience may raise a risk commonly faced by older candidates: Being seen as overqualified. Try incorporate expressions such as “significant experience” or “extensive experience” in your cover letter instead of “30 years of experience in XYZ.”

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Include Applicable Skills

Having dates that goes back too far isn’t the only factor that ages a resume. Many adult workers often make another common mistake: bragging about depth of experience regardless to the current job market demand. As you draft your resume, compare yourself to younger workers, who are actively engaged with the job market and know what employers want. As an adult job-seeker, you should include your recent accomplishments that are more relevant to the job opening in order to make yourself appear more youthful.

On the other hand, if you have never held a full-time job, now is the time for you to showcase the plenty of skills you acquired over the course of your life. Make sure you include any volunteer or community positions you’ve held, whether they were at the local library, at your church, or in your child’s parent-teacher association. Likewise, if you’re involved in any clubs or organizations at your school, include them on your resume. List these positions and responsibilities the same way you would for a “regular” job on your resume. Or, if you’re using a functional resume format, group the skills you’ve acquired in these positions into categories such as “leadership” or “counselling.”

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Seek Help From Career Services At Your School

If the college you attend is properly qualified, it should has a career services representative whose primary goal is to provide career counselling for students, including resume and cover letter writing, assessments, interview help, internships and job placements. These services are usually free as long as you’re enrolled as a student, and some schools even provide access to computer workstations with resume-writing software. 

As the largest career college in Canada with 50 campuses across the country,  Academy of Learning College attributes the growth in our success to identifying the gap between the formal education available and the realities of the working world. We fulfill the needs of learners by developing customized programs for each student, while meeting the requirements for convenient and effective training at an affordable cost. Talk to a career counsellors or a student placement officer at any of our 50 campuses across Canada for directions on your job search! Browse our program list by province and find the best program that suits your needs!

Adult students studying together

Choosing going back to school as an adult learner can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. Even for those who love learning, the pressure of taking exams, being graded, and writing essays can bring back some anxieties you haven’t felt in years. However, don’t forget that you’ve had more years of work and life experience than students of traditional college age; you know your strengths and weaknesses, which will give you direction and motivation to help steer your education to success.

As an adult learner, you tend to be more self-directed; you have a goal-centered orientation to learning. You know why you’re here, and you have a clear goal that you’re looking to achieve from your studies. So don’t fear the younger minds, because your learning will be more successful if you take an active role in planning, monitoring, and evaluating your education, and steer your education towards the direction where you want your career path to lay. 

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Know your learning style.

There are three main learning styles that students excel in to different degrees—visual, auditory, and tactile. Visual learners, for instance, learn by reading or seeing pictures,  and understand and remember things by sight. They should sit at the front of a classroom so they won’t be distracted by things going on around them; and they will also benefit from using visual aids such as highlighters and diagrams. Auditory learners find soothing music helpful to their study process, and they memorize their material best by explaining it out loud to others. Tactile learners must do things in order to learn—clicking on a computer screen, using sticky notes, and taking exercise breaks are all helpful tools for this kind of learner.

There are many online quizzes you can take to help determine your learning style, and to further find the best study tips and strategies to help you reach the best learning result.  Knowing what kind of tactics will help you absorb and remember your learning materials faster can really push your education one step forward. 

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Spend some time (doesn’t have to be long) to study everyday, and schedule weekly reviews.

Pulling an all-nighter before a test in the hopes of understanding and retaining all information doesn’t work anymore if you’ve past the age of 20; just think about the amount of sleep you’ll loose! As an adult learner, the best way to plan your study is to break down your study time to each day, and pace yourself throughout the week or month. 

Aside from spending a certain amount of time learning everyday, you could also schedule a review session of your courses each week. Sit down and review your textbook, your notes, your readings, and your assignments. This will pay off when exam time arrives as the information you reviewed will stay in your long term memory. Cramming only works if you are relying on short term memory. You will later forget most of the material and all that studying will go to waste. Use sensible study techniques to achieve the full benefit of your degree.

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Go to class prepared, and take good notes. 

Try not to miss a class, or get behind in your assignments. If you get too far behind, it can be difficult to catch up, and using your classmates’ notes to study will never achieve you the same good results as using your own. Don’t go to a class empty-headed; read the assigned chapter beforehand and note any questions before attending class. This will help you develop a pre-structured knowledge base which you will embellish more later on with the explanations given by instructors. 

After class, review anything you didn’t understand and talk to the instructor during office hours, look up answers to any quizzes, and tackle the book’s study guide. Use a method of notetaking that makes sense for you during class. The most important practice for effective notetaking is reviewing and editing your notes. Review and edit your notes as soon as possible after classes, and you will find everything you wrote down or edited is imprinted in your head in no time!

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Let your experience shine!

Whether you choose to go back to school online or in person, remember that you have a lot to bring to the table. Brush up on your skills and have confidence that you will adapt quickly. From the beginning of your studies, share your thoughts and experiences with other students through classroom discussions and get involved in campus activities.

You’ll soon find that being able to meet people of various ages, from different backgrounds and with different types of experiences can really connect you with new industries very quickly. Adult students can impact their wisdoms gained from past experiences amongst each other, and build networks and relationships that potentially lead to future opportunities. Your experience and life story might just become one of the most valuable things some other students took home from their education. 

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Always take time to maintain balance in your life. 

By going back to school you are beginning an exciting and extremely rewarding journey, once again. Reflect on the fact that the best part of an education is not the destination but the journey itself. Manage your time wisely and don’t let unnecessary stress bring you down. 

Take time to make to-do lists; prioritize things that are most important to you; and balance work, family, and leisure to avoid stress and academic burn-out, as well as maximize your learning potential. If you have families commitments, especially children to take care of, try do your homework at the same time and in the same space as your kids. This will create “homework time” in your family, which is a success strategy for both adult learners and young students; because what’s more fun than learning and improving together with you kids?

As the largest career college in Canada with 50 campuses across the country,  Academy of Learning College attributes the growth in our success to identifying the gap between the formal education available and the realities of the working world. We fulfill the needs of learners by developing customized programs for each student, while meeting the requirements for convenient and effective training at an affordable cost. Browse our program list by province and find the best program that suits your needs!

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Business writing refers to memorandums, reports, proposals, emails, and other forms of writing used in organizations to communicate with internal and external audiences. Business writing is a type of professional communication. Also known as business communication and professional writing.

Business writing is an essential skill that all business students and professionals should acquire. It is significantly needed and widely used in occupations such as Business Administration, Business Management, Marketing, Sales, Conference and Event Planner, Human Resources Administration, Project Administration, and many more. 

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Beware of why you’re writing.

When writing in business environments, you need to be clear about your objectives. Knowing the purpose a piece of writing serves gives you a sense of direction. It is important for you to know whom you’re addressing and what kind of goals you want to achieve through the documents you’re writing. State the goal convincingly in each sentence of your proposal with an easy-to-understand manner to ensure the right message delivers to your audience. Unlike blog writing, speech writing, or script writing, Business wiring often serve a specific purpose. It delivers the direction, the reference, and details of the goal you’re trying to achieve. 

Having a clear purpose in mind will help you set the tone, the style, and structure of your business writing. Defining your purpose will set things right at the beginning. For example, if your purpose is to excite and invite stakeholders to join an annual charity gala of the company as a public relation effort, not only do you need to explain how this benefit the community, you also need to convince them how this will benefit their public image while help building the company’s reputation. Having a clear objective and purpose helps keep your writing logical, straightforward, yet professional.

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Understand your readers. 

You need to know your audiences in order to find a way to speak to them effectively. Get to the point quickly, focus on what’s relevant to them and use a tone that fits your audience. When writing to a wider audience, try to avoid jargons and technical terms specifically used in your profession but not commonly used anywhere else. Imagine you’re writing to someone who is smart but not a specialist in your field. Use common vocabularies and try to explain things in ways that the general public will easily understand and accept.

Your audience should be your compass; keeping in mind what the recipient seeks to learn narrows down the possible directions your writing should take. Style, tone, and vocabulary use should be in line with your audience and situation. This is not just a matter of appropriateness and content effectiveness, it’s about your flexibility to communicate adeptly with different audiences, to empathize with them, and thus be able to connect at an appropriate and effective wave-length.

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If you can explain in one word, don’t use three. 

If you can explain things in one sentence, don’t use more. Complex nouns, long sentences, and wordy lines should be avoided. Also, less jargon – unless you’re writing a technical document – and more specific words and brief yet strong phrases should be used. Moreover, use an active voice instead of passive voice to sound more assertive and powerful. When audience feel your confidence and sincerity in writing, it’s easier to get your message across to them.

In order to writing effectively without using long sentences, you can eliminate some unnecessary words or sentences. Deleting prepositions, especially “of”; change “point of view” to “viewpoint”. Replacing –ion words with action verbs; change “provided protection” to “protected”. Replacing “is”, “are”, “was” with stronger verbs; use “indicates” instead of ”is indicative of”. 

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Practice every day

Just like the old saying states, “practice makes perfect.” Writing is a skill, and skills improve with practice. Reading well-written material every day will help sharpen your writer eyes; it will train you to be more attentive to word choice and sentence structure. 

Also, read your writing through critical eyes, and make sure that each word works toward your larger point. Most importantly, build time into your schedule for editing and revising. Editing and embellishing your own writing is where crucial change happens. It takes time to perfect your writing, and one of the most significant step is spotting your own mistakes and finding a better way to solve it. 

As the largest career college in Canada with 50 campuses across the country,  Academy of Learning College attributes the growth in our success to identifying the gap between the formal education available and the realities of the working world. We fulfill the needs of learners by developing customized programs for each student, while meeting the requirements for convenient and effective training at an affordable cost. Browse our program list by province and find the best program that suits your needs!

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