These "rules" require vigilance - but the rewards are worth it!
1. Love technology (or act as if you do) and use it wherever you can. Work diligently to become expert in most of the current and emerging technologies in your field. Go online every day to study the industry in which you want a job. Follow your target organizations and their leaders on Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
2. Express only positive viewpoints about the world and yourself. In general, look for and state only optimistic opinions about the economy and current events, and keep quiet if you can't think of anything positive. However, if you are "bearish" about a particular investment sector, it is fine to state that, but then make the focus of your comment positive by suggesting an appropriate investment strategy for that particular bear market. If you are talking about yourself (which should be of very short duration), make it clear that you view yourself as very fortunate. For instance, make only positive comments about your job search and the job market.
3. Keep the focus on the other person and talk less. To make the best impression, the ideal amount you should talk is between 25-40% of the conversation – even on interviews*. Focus on learning about the other person’s job (or life) and uncovering his or her point of view and opinions. Yours can stay unexpressed. Rather than tell stories, try different prompts to get them talking. (If you usually express your views, you may find that you don't enjoy yourself as much when you talk less (!), but the reward is that the other person often will enjoy the conversation more.)
4. Ignore the topic of age and don't reminisce about how people/things were better in the past. If others talk about relative age or "kids on their cell phones today", don’t join in and change the subject if appropriate. And never talk about age discrimination. It tempts the listener (even one older than you) to think of ways that are not discrimination, but reasonable responses to deficiencies in your skill set or behavior.
5. Work very hard without complaining. Be willing to put in 50-60 hours a week to reach your goals when necessary. Never say you are “too old to kill yourself doing x” – work as if you are the primary breadwinner for a family with several young children.
*This applies only to interviews with hiring managers. With recruiters, particularly external recruiters, this may not be possible.
Sarah Stamboulie, July 28, 2013