Job hunting is a challenge at any age. But those re-entering the market after 50 face the additional burden of age discrimination. It is important to dispel any myths about what your age means to a particular employer. You can demonstrate you are the right person for the job — no matter the length of your working life.
8 Tips for Job Searching After 50
1. Focus on Recent, Relevant Experience
Don’t be reluctant to reduce the length of your resume. Focus on the last 10 or 15 years. This shows you know what you’ve done most recently is what’s important. It also helps employers to see that you are an active, accomplished working person, right now.
If you are staying in the same industry or type of work, stick to two pages. If you are entering a new field, try to limit yourself to one, focusing in on what makes you right for the job. While you’re doing these edits, do a Google search to see what modern fonts are most common for job seekers of your caliber.
If you’re just getting back into the market after an absence, highlight any new training, relevant credentials or other recent leadership experience. You have a capacity to learn and grow and contribute — so let hiring managers see that.
2. Position Your Experience as an Asset
It’s important not to date yourself. But your years in the workforce are a definite asset to any employer. That’s something you can emphasize in cover letters and interviews. You’ve likely developed sound judgment, effective response to stressful situations, and flexibility when it comes to working relationships.
Think about what your working life has taught you — and come up with a few anecdotes or examples you can pepper throughout your interviews. You’ve likely been a mentor, supervisor, or trainer — roles that may be less common among younger individuals.
3. Make it Clear You’re Not All About Money
One thing about lots of experience — it can make you seem overqualified. To many managers, that means you want more money than they are willing to pay. You can knock down this perception before it becomes a barrier. In your cover letters and in interviews, say you want to grow in your working role and bring your assets to the organization.
Of course, you may not want to come out and say you’ll take a lower salary, and you certainly don’t want to imply you wouldn’t be worth higher pay. But you can write something like, “I have been fortunate to have lucrative positions in the past, now my focus is more on experience than compensation.”
At this point in your career, it’s less about pay than whatever your personal motivation happens to be. Remain upfront about why you want this career change, and put those employers’ budget-occupied minds at ease.
4. Prove You’re Up-to-Date With Technology
There are some red flags that signal to employers you’re not just older, but perhaps out of touch. Those include using email addresses from dated providers. That’s anything ending in yahoo.com, aol.com, or even hotmail.com. Sign up for a free gmail account or use a personal domain.
It’s also a good idea to get online, so employers can find out a little bit more about you. Many will ask for links to a LinkedIn profile or even personal website. Of course, if you already use social media, make sure your public posts are employer-friendly.
5. Show Your Willingness to Learn
Recent experience is important, and so is new training and qualifications. Even if you’re not taking a full program, it doesn’t hurt to include mention of recent coursework related to your field. That shows you’re not resting on your laurels — you’re still staying up-to-date with your knowledge. You also can use this to prove you are willing to grow in a new working environment, no matter the impressive nature of what you’ve done before.
Place a section on your resume called “training/certification.” List your most recent classes first. You can also include participation in weekend workshops and professional development events, especially if they are connected to the new position you seek.
6. Use Your Network
One of the main benefits of age is the number of people you’ve encountered over the years. Now is the time to use that network of individuals. You can solicit information and advice, or perhaps get a recommendation of a new place to work. Networking online isn’t that different from the cocktail parties or industry events of old. You simply find people, reintroduce yourself, and start up a conversation.
Check out some of your former colleagues on sites like LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to get in touch and let them know you’re looking to make a move. All too often, people are more than happy to pass along tips or names of others who can help.
7. Dress the Part
It’s unfortunate, but appearance matters. To further dispel the myth that your age gets in the way of your employability, think about how you’ll dress for the interview — and during your orientation period. That means just a few simple updates to your wardrobe — you don’t need a complete makeover, as you should always do your best to be who you are.
Make the right first impression with these 8 interview outfit tips
8. Look for Fit and Don’t Force It
Modern workplaces often promote their company culture. That can mean sharing interests, hobbies and personalities with whom you are working. Fit is not always easy to predict. Remember it’s important to be authentic. You can successfully find common ground with younger co-workers, but if you have to try too hard it’s probably not the best place for you to be.
Try to get positions based on recommendations from others who know you. If you have a friend inside a new organization, it will make the transition easier — no matter your age. Some job seekers over 50 may choose to target employers whose demographic is reflective of that age group, or slightly younger.
There are always new avenues of experience, no matter your age. Enter the job market proud of what you’ve accomplished and ready to demonstrate your worth to any employer. It can end up being an exciting new chapter in your working career.
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