November 21, 2013
Job-hunting tips for older workers
The job market is improving overall, but it's still a tough row to hoe for 50-somethings. According to AARP, the length of the median job hunt for workers age 55 or older is nearly a year. If this is you, consider these tips:
Rethink your resume. Does it list every job you've ever had? Don't bother. You should include only the most recent ones (nothing from more than 15 years ago unless it's huge). Remember that employers care much more about what you can do for them now than what you did in the '80s.
Look for industries in which age is an asset. In the burgeoning health-care field, for example, "customers" (candidates for assisted living, say) might prefer dealing with people closer to their age. Financial services is another industry in which clients value maturity.
Connect in person and online. Old-fashioned networking is your strong suit. The older you are, the more contacts you have; use them. In addition, get active on LinkedIn and any other social media pertinent to your field. This not only shows that you are familiar and comfortable with new technology, it also gives you a venue to showcase your deep knowledge of your field. Remember that an ability to write clearly puts you ahead of many younger applicants, who are notorious for their deficiency in this area.
Check your "packaging." Lose weight, if you need to, and get in shape. If your eyeglasses are dated, invest in a pair of stylish frames. Ditto for clothes and hair (you don't need to dye it, just get a hipper style). Beware of using slang that dates you, no matter how groovy you think it sounds.
Finally, some random ideas: Stress your work ethic and stability. Offer to work hours that younger workers (with families) won't or can't work. Remember that you don't have to tell employers the year you graduated from college, but you DO need to keep your skills are up to date (take a class, if you have to).
Most of all, in interviews (and all contacts with prospective employers), talk clearly and convincingly about how you can make the company money and/or save the company money.
Experience still matters. Good luck.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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