Instead of being defensive about your age, make it an asset. In cover letters, on your resume, and especially in interviews, "describe the abilities you've gained from experience that will give you an advantage over younger, less experienced candidates," he says. One example: Problem solving. "At age 50-plus, there are probably few business challenges you haven't faced," says Mays.
2. Describe your flexible management style. "There is a perception that over-fifty job seekers are set in their ways and reluctant to change. So talk about how you modified your approach to fit different situations and varied corporate cultures," Sloane suggests. "You can also mention how you responded to unanticipated problems like a product recall, the loss of a major client, or a new government regulation." The point is to show that you can roll with the punches as well as, or better than, any 35-year-old.
3. Cite past success at working for a younger boss. Recruiters and hiring managers often worry that executives over 50 will have problems reporting to someone younger, and young managers may wonder if your experience means you're after their jobs. "During interviews, give examples where you enabled a young boss to succeed, grow, and advance their careers," Mays advises.
"If you're interviewing with a prospective boss who is younger than you, ask what his or her greatest challenges are, and tell how you believe your skills and experience can make their mission easier," he adds. "You'll be less likely to be perceived as a threat if you show that you respect their authority and are as committed to advancing their career as your own."
4. Be flexible about pay. "You'll have a significant advantage over younger candidates if you're willing to accept a lower base salary up front, in exchange for greater performance-based bonus or equity," says Sloane. "Companies prefer to hire executives who are willing to prove themselves first."
Decide what minimum salary you need and then, when asked about your pay requirements, "mention that once you learn more about the job requirements and the company's full compensation structure -- including salary, bonus, profit-sharing, perks, and equity -- you'll be in a better position to answer."
Among OptiMarket's clients, Sloane says, "reducing initial salary requirements is often the key reason they get an offer. And in most cases, they end up making more money in the long run, because of deferred compensation they earn for great performance."
Here's hoping it works out that way for you.
Talkback: If you're over 50 and job hunting, do you think your age is an obstacle, an advantage, or a bit of both? If you've recently found a new job, what do you think helped you clinch the offer? Leave a comment below.