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How Do I Compete With Younger Job Candidates?

Dear J.T. & Dale: Twelve years ago, I moved from theater management to higher-education management with a specialty in international programming development. That move was incredibly lucrative. Then I left my job, moved to be near family and now appear to have been exiled from the profession I found mid-career. My BA in writing and MFA in theater are almost obstacles; many employers list as "minimum qualifications" master's degrees that did not exist even 12 years ago. Schools will not even consider me for a position because I lack a BA or MA in international education or a related field. Experience is set aside, and a newly graduated 25-year-old is the successful candidate. How do I compete? - Vic J.T.: It's important to understand that qualifications are put in place as a way to screen out candidates. The only way around those requirements is to network into the schools where you want to work. You'll need to establish credibility with faculty and peers as a way for them to vouch that you have the experience that trumps the educational requirement. DALE: However, I would help those colleagues see you as qualified by updating the language you use to describe your education and experience. You didn't really get a BA in writing, did you? You got a BA degree, and you took courses that overlap with what they are now calling "communications." So, point out that you have a BA "with a focus on communications." Don't misrepresent your credentials; re-present them so as to prevent the reader from missing the true qualifications. Doing so, you help the person looking at your resume to count you in, not out. Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at advice@jtanddale.com or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. Younger job candidates image from Shutterstock