Likewise, they're not often going to open up to tell you that you're just priced out of their range - i.e., you cost too much to hire when they can find someone else who will do the job for a lot less - say a younger, less expensive junior executive perhaps.
But there are some subtle, and some not-so-subtle things you can do to help prevent being passed over for a job based on these reasons, and increase your employability quotient.
The first step is to get past the organization's gatekeeper. You know the one: The Human Resources person who pre-screens all the applications and then forwards them to the hiring manager or board or the assistant who narrows the pile down to ''qualified and desirable'' applicants.
Many times, if this person catches wind of your age - or some clue that suggests you are over 55, for example - or your previous salary, they'll kick you right out of the running for the job before the boss even sees your resume.
For this reason, try not to put your actual salary for your last job on your application. Instead, write something like salary to be discussed at interview. Also, don't include any memberships like AARP that might give away your age or include interests or other information that might give clues to your age - such as the year of your graduation from high school or college. Review your application and resume thoroughly assessing it for these little hints and removing them. Instead, add items that show how energetic and vibrant you still are - like volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or running Marathons.
You may also wish to leave off some of your earlier positions that are not relevant to the position at hand so you don't have 40 years of job history listed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that 40 years of work plus about 20 years of age as a starting employee puts you close to 60 years old. You really need only go back about 10 years or so with employment history. No one really cares about anything prior to that time anyway.
Keep a positive attitude every step of the way and focus on your experience and what you can bring to the position you desire. Sell yourself and your skills and experience - like a salesman at every level of the application process and particularly during the interview.
If necessary, especially for CEO jobs or CFO jobs, offer to work as a consultant for a time rather than an actual employee to prove you can do the job and get the results the company wants. Set up a term after which if you have proven yourself successfully you will be hired in the CEO or CFO capacity.
CEO and CFO careers are not like entry-level jobs. That you already know. So your approach needs to be a little different, too. While at an entry-level an employee is anxious to show any type of work experience just to get his or her foot in the door, with CEO and CFO careers, you should focus exclusively on that kind of experience and qualifications relevant to the specific job you're after. Skip talking about anything that really isn't relevant. Instead, highlight what you brought to your previous position and all that you can bring to this one. Sell the interviewer on the results you have already generated for others and the kinds of results they can expect to get from you if you're hired.
Remember, focus on qualifications. And if its numbers they want tell them how much you saved your previous company last year or how much the company grossed under your leadership. Give them the kind of numbers they're going to love.