“Only the Currently Employed Need Apply”

That’s how the advertisement begins.  After you pick yourself up and dust off your bruised ego, you wonder if such a statement is legal, or even moral.  Whatever it is, you are seeing it more and more in employment ads these days.

Some “older workers” suggest that this statement is just a different way to cut them out of the running before they can even be considered contestants.  Realistically for the employer, it does significantly cut down the applicant pool of the large number of unemployed workers currently applying for jobs.  Even so, it needn’t discourage the more seasoned job seeker (my preferred term for the “older unemployed” person) — individuals who use a more diversified and multidimensional approach to their search. Job advertisements are only a small portion of their overall efforts to find new employment.

For everyone, a big part of any job search effort is building your personal network of contacts.  Networking results in 80% of new hires.  Therefore, it stands to reason that the seasoned job seeker will have the advantage of a larger and more far-reaching network than their younger counterparts, just due to the number of years working in the professional world.

Networking includes more than just getting back in touch with former co-workers.  It also includes connecting with alumni organizations, classmates, hobby groups, neighbors, political and professional organizations, volunteer acquaintances and, of course, friends and family members.

Everyone you encounter needs to hear your 10 second elevator pitch, your 60 second commercial, or your 10 minute informative interview on your career objective.  Be ready to hand out one of your professional business cards briefly stating that objective and how people can contact you.

As a seasoned job seeker, most likely you will have a resume listing several “professional accomplishments,” as opposed to a list of skills. With years of experience under your belt, you might have awards, accolades or “atta-boys” you can add to it.  Put those recognitions front and center (in the top half of the first page) where the youngsters are still listing their McJobs and their computer game scores.  (Seriously, I truly saw a resume listing computer game scores!)  If you suggested a better way of doing something at a former job, list it.  If your company saved thousands of dollars due to your tenacious methods of controlling expenses, mention how much and how that compared to other years.

Furthermore, create a well-crafted cover letter that illustrates your skill in professional writing.  While the younger folks may have difficulty using the correct one of the three words to express the concept of “also,” you have developed a knack for expressing yourself in words!  Your cover letter will show how your accomplishments make you the ideal candidate for the position, and it will use language that conveys your familiarity with the industry.

Most importantly, sell your experience as a benefit to the employer.  Because of your vast experience, having faced and overcome challenges that a younger person would not have, you are able to “hit the ground running.” You won’t need a lengthy and unproductive “breaking in period.”   In short, see your experience and years in the business world as the advantage that it is, and sell it to the employer that way.

And let me know how that network of yours is working for you!

Sharan Nunn is an employment counselor with Workforce Solutions – Pasadena. With a background as a human resources generalist, she has experience in both health care and hospitality industries, where outstanding customer service equals success. Sharan is a native of East Texas, and has called Houston home long enough to remember when the Astrodome was the new “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

1 Response to ““Only the Currently Employed Need Apply””


  1. 1 Tim Lopas March 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I agree! Illustrating extensive experience can be done uniquely to catch the eye! Great article…


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