Some lawyers enter, or phase back into, the legal industry at an older age. “Older” typically means age 50 or above. This late entrance or return to the game is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, perhaps you went to law school later in your career; or, you took some time off from lawyering to raise a family. No matter the reason, you must know that older attorneys do face some obstacles to getting hired. Once you understand them, though, you can more effectively maneuver them to get that job you’re after.
Obstacles Facing Older Attorneys
The following are real hiring assumptions that tend to hurt older lawyers when applying for jobs.
- Older attorneys will not work hard. Well, maybe they’ll work hard, but just not as hard as younger lawyers. Younger professionals are typically more prone to putting in longer hours to get ahead or prove their worth.
- Older attorneys expect more money. Attorneys above 50 years of age generally have more professional experience than their younger colleagues. This experience means they’ll want more pay in comparison to a new lawyer fresh out of law school or one just starting out. Firms or corporations will often want to pay less – even if a candidate is more experienced.
- Older attorneys are not impressionable. Older lawyers not only have more professional experience, but they also have more life experience. This combination means they’re not easily persuadable. Younger attorneys are just getting their careers started, and as such, are more willing to do what they’re told and are more willing to follow the herd.
- Older attorneys may leave. Firms and corporate legal departments face a risk when hiring an older lawyer. The risk is that the lawyer may decide to leave or retire shortly after hiring due to health reasons, family obligations, or for time off. Younger lawyers don’t come with such concerns.
- Older attorneys are not social. Employers want good workers, but they also want to build friendly work environments. This requires candidates that are eager to interact with others and eager to engage in post work activities with colleagues. Older attorneys are often not as interested to do this when compared to younger professionals.
Overcoming the Obstacles
Unfortunately, the above assumptions are real. The double whammy is that they’re hurtful to the hiring chances of older lawyers. The good news is that there are ways to overcome them; or at least, ways to downplay them. The following are the top methods and they can be used in resumes, cover letters, or interviews.
- Stress that you’re a hard worker. Tell an employer that you’ve earned past success because of a great work ethic. Show that you have limitless energy and are not afraid to perform after quitting time.
- Highlight all your relevant experience. Older attorneys have years of professional experience. Take some time to sort through your past and emphasize everything that is relevant to the job at hand. More experience means that an employer may be willing to pay you extra money. Or, they may just want your experience - even despite an older age.
- Let hiring managers know that you play by the rules. You don’t have to pretend to be a puppy dog willing to cater to everything an employer asks of you. However, do come across as eager to follow when necessary and willing to do as told.
- Communicate that you’re worth the investment. It’s okay to acknowledge that a firm is investing in you. If so, let that firm know that you’re not a risky investment. Indicate that you enjoy adding to the firm environment and that you’re a social person willing to engage in firm activities.
You should never let your age hurt you when it comes to finding a job. Make it work for you. Show employers that your age and experience are benefits, as opposed to liabilities. Follow the above tips and use them whenever you get the chance. If they’re not working for you, simply contact us and let’s try them together.