Ageism, or discrimination based on someone’s age and not objective performance criteria, is real, according to a December 2016 workforce.com article citing a 2013 study by AARP, and an October 2017 Business Insider article discussing tech-hiring practices in Silicon Valley.
That being said, age discrimination is illegal, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with countless numbers of Baby Boomers who have landed meaningful employment and even made successful career changes.
Why? Because at the end of the day – PEOPLE are still making the decision to hire PEOPLE – and a quality candidate with a compelling resume and LinkedIn, and a kick-butt networking strategy who can express their value proposition in an interview — often wins out in the end.
5 Musts for After-50 Job Seekers
#1 Know Your Dealbreakers. Before diving into the job search waters, do some self-examination. How many hours do you want to work a week? Are you open to travel, project or consulting work? What are your salary requirements?
#2 Understand Your Value. The value you can offer a prospective employer is critical to your re-employment chances. As part of your self-reflection, figure out what sets you apart from a sea of candidates.
#3 Know Who You Know. By virtue of having lived longer, chances are your network is larger than that of a millennial. Spend just 20% of your time scouring job boards and applying to positions online – and devote the remaining 80% to reaching out to your network to get conversations going!
#4 Homework and Prep. Take a page from your days as a student. Be sure to research companies and people with whom you will be speaking, and be practice, practice, practice to be poised and to-the-point when communicating your value in interviews.
#5 LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Don’t Let Your Documents Age You! Your resume is neither an obituary or a blueprint of every responsibility you’ve ever held. Focus on the achievements from your post-Y2K experience.
What You Must Know if You Haven’t Needed a Resume in Years
Many of my clients are facing the prospect of writing a resume for the first time in years – because they’ve always been recruited or sought after for roles by colleagues and past bosses.
Sound familiar? If it’s been awhile since your last job hunt, here’s some guidance on how resume writing, and reading, has changed – and what you can do to ensure your resume appears as current and relevant as you.
Today’s skim reader spends 6 to 10 seconds on the first pass and is most likely to take a peek on a screen. Upwards of half will open it up on a mobile device. 3 solutions to facilitating a skim, online read that is a must for standing out.
#1 DENSE TEXT
THE PROBLEM: The human eye can easily digest large blocks of text – in print. Unfortunately, it can’t during screen reading because it’s just too tough on the eye. When something is tough, there’s a chance it won’t get read.
THE SOLUTION: Pare your paragraphs/bullets to 2-3 lines with at least .5 points or a half-inch of white space in between to facilitate skim, online reading.
#2 OUTDATED SUMMARY
THE PROBLEM: A summary that describes you with fluffy adjectives and keywords (“results-driven professional with a strong track record of results”) went out of style once the recession finally ended.
Replace yours with a branding paragraph that shows the reader how you’re ideally suited for the role.
THE SOLUTION: Review online postings to uncover how the role is necessary to advance a company further. Include information that showcases how your achievements align with their requirements.
#3 BURYING THE LEAD (LEDE):
THE PROBLEM: Don’t bury your achievements below your list of responsibilities. Today’s skim readers often never get past the first bullet during the first review.
THE SOLUTION: Create an impressive and eye-catching achievement by asking yourself what you were proudest of in each role. Lead off with this as your first paragraph or bullet.
Also read: Break Through Age Stereotypes and Land a Job
New Times Call for a New Battle Plan – and New Techniques
While age-ism is certainly a real issue facing baby boomer and even Gen X-ers, it is not insurmountable. With a plan that includes strong documents, a robust network strategy, and sharp interview skills, you will be able to maintain a competitive advantage against candidates of all ages.