How to Compete Against the Younger Generation

This is an easy one. We are not just older, we are more experienced. Even if you recently graduated from nursing school as an older adult, you still have more LIFE experience to tout in the job market. The first key to this healthy competition is…don’t underestimate yourself. The following are some reasons you can EASILY compete against a younger nurse in the job market (sorry younger nurses…this article is not for you)!

1)     WORK EXPERIENCE: Whether in the healthcare field or in other fields, you have work experience that the younger nurse simply does not have. This work experience gives you the opportunity to write a great resume and have a lot more reference letters than the younger nurse. Make sure to use all of this work experience to your advantage by writing your resume to match the job that you are applying for. Younger nurses have less work experience and thus can’t write the power resume that you can! (Click here to read"Is Your Nursing Resume Disconnected?and "Write and Post Your Resume Successfully on NurseTogether.com".)

2)     LIFE EXPERIENCE: Regardless of what your work history is, you bring life experience to the table that younger nurses do not. You have “been there, done that” and learned from those life experiences. Employers know this…but it never hurts to remind them! The other part of life experience is that with experience comes maturity (this can’t be learned in a textbook). You have been through the immature years and realize what is important in life. In general, older nurses bring maturity, a more positive work ethic, and less personal problems to the job! In general, we are more focused on our tasks at hand (I told you younger nurses, this article is not for you!).

3)     INTERVIEW SKILLS: You have been to more interviews and written more resumes than the younger nurses you’re competing with. You know the standard questions, know what to expect in an interview, and thus are more prepared. Use this knowledge to your advantage. Dress conservatively, arrive early, and have a smile on your face. Make sure to brag at the interview about your experience and what you bring to the table…

4)     MAKE AND BRING A “ME” BINDER: When I apply for a new job, I make a “Me” binder to give to the interviewer at the end of the interview. This binder contains a clean resume, a copy of my license and certifications, a copy of recent training documents, awards, and letters of recommendation. This is something that perhaps the younger generation can’t make…they do not have all of this information like you do. It will be VERY impressive to the interviewer that you took the time to put the binder together and, when they sit down to consider who to hire, they have you still sitting on their desk - the rest of the people interviewed are but memories! 

5)     ATTITUDE: You are not “old”, you are “experienced”, “seasoned”, “mature”, “focused”, and most of all YOU! Bring a positive attitude to the interview and the first day on the job (because you will be hired)!

About the Author: Sue Heacock, RN, MBA, COHN-S is the author of Inspiring the Inspirational: Words of Hope From Nurses to Nurses, a compilation of stories from nurses around the country, with a sprinkling of inspirational quotes.  Sue is a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist and has worked in a variety of areas of nursing including pediatrics and research.  Before entering the nursing profession, Sue worked in human resources and equal employment opportunity.