How to Project Energy – and Downplay Age – in the Senior Executive Job Search

Jason Hanold, CEO and Co-Managing Partner of Hanold Associates human resources executive search firm, shares advice on how to diminish age bias in the senior executive job search.


You’ve probably heard about Facebook’s age-targeted job ads and the concerns senior executives have about finding an employer who values experience but doesn’t dwell on age.

The good news is companies will always need senior executives. They need someone who’s been there and done that. For example, the board of directors for one company I know of just hired a new CEO and would like to recruit someone who has coached and developed chief executives.

What will a company like that need? Someone who is senior and tested. They have no appetite for an up-and-comer, they want an executive who has weathered some storms.

At the same time, they don’t want an executive who has one foot on the golf course. That’s why they’re more concerned about energy than age. They need someone who wants to lead a team and has the stamina to jump on a plane and travel around the world many times a year to work with customers and close deals.

So how can a senior executive radiate energy during the job search?

  • Be an intellectual athlete: A lot comes down to matching the tempo and pace of the organization. Show that you can think quickly on your feet by tracking, following and contributing to in-person conversations. Exhibit your passion for the assignment in your emails and phone conversations.
  • Project physical fitness: During in-person meetings, interviewers will watch your body positioning, making sure you’re connected and engaged. Also, if you’re into endurance fitness, mention your most recent marathon, triathlon or mountain climbing adventure on your resume and LinkedIn.
  • Embrace technology: Updating your LinkedIn profile is a must, as is understanding/appreciating other social media platforms, as it’s likely the company has a Twitter, Facebook and/or YouTube presence. Also, be aware of how technology is shaping the industry you’re working in and offer examples of how you have used data to transform the way you do business. If you have a relevant tech-focused certification, be sure to trumpet it.
  • Showcase your unique skills: Employers looking for senior-level leaders often want a combination of experience in hard and soft skills that only a senior executive can offer. Make sure your LinkedIn, resume and cover letter showcase these accomplishments/skills. This is especially important as recruiters often search LinkedIn for skill-based keywords that match their position.