The job market is hard for just about anyone, but it can be even more challenging for those who are considered to be the “baby boomers”—the ones who are over the age of 50 who are trying to compete with individuals who are significantly younger than them.
On one hand, a lot of people who fall into this category have the years of experience required. On the other, because of their age, some employers may assume that they may not have some of the recent education, technological insight and/or level of energy and passion they is required for certain positions; therefore, many end up being looked over. And yes, sometimes that is simultaneous with being discriminated against.
So, if you’re over 50 and you’re looking for a new position and you would like some ideas on how to be able to avoid being “judged by your demographic”, we have five helpful tips that can take you from “We’ll let you know” to “You’re hired!”
Be aware of your appearance. Being over 50 is nothing to be ashamed of or something to feel like you need to hide. However, as you age, you definitely have to make a concerted effort to stay healthy and fit so that you don’t end up looking older than you actually are. Exercise, eat right and dress in a way that is appropriate but also fashionable. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to go to a salon for a new haircut or makeover if you can’t remember the last time that you did that either.
Don’t be “age sensitive”. While in an interview, there’s a pretty good chance that the topic of your age, (one way or another) is going to come up. If you seem uncomfortable about it, you may put the person interviewing you a bit on edge as well. Sometimes, there is age discrimination in the workplace because there’s an assumption that older people are harder to work with because they are not open to learning. By conveying that you look forward to being both a mentor as well as a “student”, that can definitely work in your favor.
Be advanced. Even if you have been doing a certain thing for years, technology plays a significant role in making career a bit more complex than it used to be. Sticking to the formula of “It’s worked this way for me for years” could prevent you from landing a second interview. In other words, do some online research, take some software classes (like learning things about cloud systems, QuickBooks and maybe even some time tracking software) and speak with people who already work in the field that you’re interested in to see what extra things you can do to get your foot into the door.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself. If you have continued to apply for one certain kind of position and you haven’t been hired, be open to working in fields that are related to it. One thing that all people have to be open to, regardless of age, is that sometimes we can’t get the exact job that we want, but we can come close…if we’re open to it.
Consider contract work or self-employment. Age discrimination tends to happen far more when you are seeking work that requires actually going into an office setting. When you’re looking to do some telecommute contract work, rarely does age even become a factor. So, you might want to seek employment via websites like Craigslist, oDesk and Freelancer. Or, maybe the Universe is trying to tell you that it’s time that you started your own business. Every time that you drive past a KFC, remind yourself that the founder was 65 when he started the franchise. Indeed, anything is possible and age is certainly not a factor.