Over 50? You Can Still Land that Primo Sales Job

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In this tough economy, landing a good sales job if you’re over 50 can be a challenge. Seems all companies want are young sales pros. The buzzwords HR people and recruiters use to filter out the “grey hairs” are “energetic” and “fast paced.” They don’t care that you once “walked between the raindrops.” As far as they’re concerned, the northbound end of your hourglass is almost empty. What to do?


It’s not what you did, but what you know.

If you’re pushing five plus decades, HR people and recruiters advise against bulking up you resume or interview pitch with “acres of experience.” What you did many moons ago may not be relevant today. "Experience is history," says Troy Harrison, president of SalesForce Solutions, a Kansas City-based recruiting firm. "Skills and traits tell me what's you can do tomorrow and next month."


It’s not your smile, it’s informed salesmanship.

Older salespeople tend to place too much emphasis on their charisma and persuasive powers. They push their “grey fox” personna—or “I can sell anything to anyone.” In some older salespeople, this overconfidence leads them to ignore the importance of how technology has changed their industry and the products within it. Recruiters also advise older salespeople to match what they’ve sold in the past with what the job they’re applying for involves. In other words, don’t overemphasize your pharmaceutical sales experience if you’re applying for a job selling commercial real estate.


It’s how you use computers.

Social media, mobile computing, smartphones—they’re important in today’s selling process and you should know how to exploit their power. "I've seen many older sales people who have not kept up with developments in computer technology," said Harrison. "And I'm not even talking about newer things like social networking. I'm talking about CRM systems, the ability to communicate via email and text. But most of the time, that's the only way to reach out to clients."


It’s how much you’re asking.

Many of today’s employers are on a budget crunch and aren’t willing to pay for your decades of experience. They’re looking for the best HR value. If you insist on a big salary and comp package, it could put you out of the running. Stephen Schwartz, president of New York City-based Management Recruiters at Gramercy notes that employers will couch their reason for rejecting high salary, big perks sales pros. "Less experienced candidates, by definition, save money. Of course, employers aren't going to come out and say that. But it'll be couched in terms like, 'Oh, they're over-qualified,' or something like that."


There’s no sugar coating it, landing a primo sales job when you just short of joining AARP won’t be easy. The key is to repackage yourself, and to stay more affordable compared to the B school MBAs with just a few years experience.


Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


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  • Alex A. Kecskes
    Alex A. Kecskes
    Thanks for your feedback. To those still looking for a job, I would suggest joining a number of local sales clubs and organizations. Once you've joined, attend the seminars, trade shows and conferences, and try to connect with as many working people as you can.
  • Rebecca T
    Rebecca T
    I would say tailor your resume and interview responses to their job description, make sure you know all the Microsoft office programs, dress professionally and in style, be healthy, and be open to change.
  • Lawrence G
    Lawrence G
    Very helpful.
  •  Faye N
    Faye N
    Are you suggesting to conceal my years of experience, get a face lift, loose weight, learn different apps on my smartphone, buy clothes from forever 21 and tailor my resume to the job?I want some honest feedback from people like me.
  • Bobby H
    Bobby H
    This article is absolutely true.   I have received several notifications that the company would be looking in a different direction, but the reality is that they are looking for someone with less experience so that they can offer them less that what my experience dictates.
  • Kerry P
    Kerry P
    I'm 59 and have really found it hard to land a sales job. This article was of great help. Thanks for sharing!
  • Paul M
    Paul M
    Great Article. I am 75 and still working as a BD consultant.Stay active, keep up with the technology and develop new networks.  Work with the young guys, they are great. It is still a team sport. "We" not "I" leads the show!!!
  • nancy g
    nancy g
    good job    very relevant
  • Charles B
    Charles B
    Its really all about Real Skills that you bring to the job. Its knowing when to shut up after you've made your best  and smartest pitch for the job. Money should be at the level you made ten years before you retired...or even $5k less...then the HR person will be more inclined to give you a chance. Stress just basic bennies...Vision and Dental...You don't want to come on sounding like you want this new job's bennie. pkg to foot the bill for a heart transplant !
  • Donald S
    Donald S
    really did not help how an over 50 person can land a good job as the title suggested.
  • tricia p
    tricia p
    So very true!!! I'm in my early 50's, and often floored how unsavy many of my peers are in regards to technology. I think it depends on your industry and what they require you to do. Regards,tricia
  • Rick D
    Rick D
    I liked the article but it didn't give many solutions or specific advice. Can it be enhanced to include more of "What & How to do it"Thank you
  •  Robert M
    Robert M
    You have hit it on the head."OVER QUALIFIED"we all know better then that.
  •  Giulio M
    Giulio M
    Being over 50 years of is a big problem for looking for a job, I never could have imagined.
  • Ronald W
    Ronald W
    Very enlightening article!!
  • Laura S
    Laura S
    I am in this exact position and it is very challenging to say the least. Good info- thanks!!
  • Dan S
    Dan S
    Good article...very true.  Nicely put and succint. Tells it like it is...
  • Judi C
    Judi C
    Being 54, & unemployed for the 1st time, I appreciated this article. Most of the suggestions were obvious to me. I would have loved to had a couple more of suggestions on how to answer these hurdle questions during an interview. Thanks!
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    That's the right attitude, Bruce.
  • Bruce H
    Bruce H
    Good article - 50 is the new 40!

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