Tips for Searching Jobs For Over 50
Anyone embarking on searching for a job for over 50 years old is aware that ageism is alive and well. And that older job hunters faces some unflattering stereotypes. Don’t make the classic job search mistakes. When searching for jobs for people over 50 you will need a strategy to overcome the stereotypes that older workers are:
- not technologically savvy
- tired, unenthusiastic and just waiting until they can retire
- set in their ways and not willing to try new things
- unable to get along with younger co-workers and bosses
- too expensive to employ.
Let’s squash those stereotypes with great strategies to get jobs for over 50
Stereotype 1: Older workers aren’t technologically savvy
Rubbish! Many older workers were early adopters of technology and have been using available technology for much of their adult lives. Certainly younger colleagues may learn new applications more intuitively, but most older workers do have the skills required by the work place.
Make sure you are current in the technology used in your field. If newer applications and technologies are becoming more common in your industry do some training so you are familiar with your industry’s new standards.
Stereotype Buster: Your resume
When searching for jobs over 50 show that you are technologically savvy in your resume. Be sure it includes your email address and mobile phone number. If it is relevant to the position that you seek, include the URL of your website.
Hopefully your resume implies that you are flexible and have learned new things in your past positions.
In your resume show yourself to be an asset to the company. Can your qualities and achievements be powerfully presented as a direct match for the needs of an employer? This might help to minimize or overcome any ageist ideas that the employer may have.
Stereotype Buster: Your online presence
At the very least you should be on LinkedIn with a great profile and professional image. Whenever you create a profile at a social networking site be sure to create a complete profile. Do this even if you decide not to use that social media. You do not want to give anyone the impression that you don’t finish what you start. But you do want to be found.
Eighty percent of recruiters google applicants before contacting them. Google yourself to make sure the results are positive. If there are other people with your name, you may want to start using a middle initial of even middle name to distinguish yourself from the crowd. I know someone who discovered that the name she was known by professionally was shared with a porn star. Guess whose social media profile always came up first if you googled her name!
There should be no indication of your age anywhere public. Make sure only friends and not recruiters can see the family pictures where you might really look your age. If a friend or relative has tagged you in an embarrassing photograph, try to convince them to remove it.
Stereotype 2: Tired, unenthusiastic and waiting to retire
Stereotype Buster: Show what you can contribute
When you are attending an interview be sure that you come across as vital and enthusiastic. Don’t let anything that you can control create a problem, so be prepared and be on time.
Before an interview, research the company, the job, and the potential boss to get as much information as you can about the needs of the organization. This is where LinkedIn can be a tremendous help. It allows you to ask intelligent questions and prepares you to discuss how your experience and skills will benefit this company. When interviewing, be sure to show enthusiasm in your voice. Demonstrate an understanding of their values and industry problems that they may be facing. In other words, give them a reason to hire you!
Stereotype 3: Set in their ways and not willing to try new things
Stereotype Buster: Prepare to showcase your achievements
Interview preparation is essential. Practice answering the questions that you are likely to be asked. Expect technical questions pertaining to your area of expertise. Be well versed on your accomplishments and indicate that you are knowledgeable about changes in your industry. Be ready to weave in answers to the interviewer’s unasked concerns. Demonstrate that you are able to learn quickly, are adaptable and open-minded and have enthusiastically embraced changes in the workplace. When interviewing, be sure to show enthusiasm in your voice.
Stereotype 4: Unable to get along with younger co-workers and bosses
Stereotype Buster: Prepare positive evidence of intergenerational work collaborations
To show what you work well with people of all ages, including younger bosses, refer to this in your answers during the interview. For instance you might refer to the refreshing changes made to a previous company when a younger team leader was appointed and brought a great balance to the team.
Stereotype 5: Too expensive
Stereotype Buster: Show your value to the company
Present your qualities as a direct match for the needs of an employer. This can help to minimize or overcome the perceived weaknesses suggested by age.
Don’t talk money until a second interview or until there is a job offer. Salary questions are a device to screen out applicants. Learn the average salaries for your area and through your contacts try to get an idea of what the company you are interviewing with is planning to offer.
On electronic applications, try to leave any boxes about your past salaries blank. If leaving it blank does not work, try typing in “0,” which is obviously a mistake, but your online application will go through without a salary history that may be perceived as too high or too low.
There are many factors that fall under compensation and salary may not even be your main concern at this point.
The Older Worker’s ‘Secret Sauce’
Show your age through good old-fashioned manners. After each interview, send a thank you letter by snail mail, that is a written letter in an envelope with a stamp on it! (Do you remember how to do that?) We receive so few letters in the post these days that they are impressive. It will make you be remembered. Thank you emails are not memorable.
Don’t pay attention to the media
People over 50 do find new jobs. The media knows that bad news sells, so they are going to keep focusing on how bad the economy is, especially for older workers. However, the figures that they cite are drawn from generalities and do not take into account the personal drive, focus, and energy that an individual puts into his or her job search.
Attitudinal challenges facing older workers
Feeling rejected and resentful
Many mature workers who are unable to get a job they want find it difficult to come to terms with the situation. It is emotionally devastating, and insulting, to realize that their skills, history, long-term perspective, and deep knowledge are not being valued. They feel they are being prematurely put out to pasture.
The stereotypes, the challenges and the lack of appreciation seem so wrong in their eyes. Extensive experience at one’s work should be seen as desirable. Logic suggests that mistakes of the past won’t be repeated if you have employees who know and have lived history.
But contemporary hiring managers, who seem to be becoming younger all the time, often don’t see it that way. As older workers encounter this problem they can become resentful and bitter, and this will come through in interviews.
Sick of their job and incompetent management
Working as a career counsellor with many older workers I’ve noticed how many of those who are employed are really sick of their jobs, but not tired of working. And why have they grown so dissatisfied with their jobs? In almost every case it comes down to two words—poor management.
When someone has been working thirty or more years there can be plenty of been-there-done-that moments. Among the worst of them is putting up yet again with sub-standard or even dysfunctional leadership.
Be careful that your feeling about poor management is not reflected in your attitude to younger people who are interviewing you. You don’t want them to stereotype you. Be careful that generational differences are not leading to you also reacting to the perceived stereotypes you believe are held by younger managers.
Considering all this, there is a lot of anxiety about remaining productively employed during the final years of many careers.
If your job search has gone on too long
Consult with a financial advisor.
Have a clear picture of how solvent you are going forward. The chances of pulling down high salaries for the foreseeable future are greatly diminished.
Consider an entrepreneurial venture.
Although far from a quick fix, now may be the time to leverage your skills and knowledge. Use them to start a micro or small business that can positively engage your energies and eventually lead to some income.
Embrace the small-is-beautiful ethic.
Pulling back on expenses and fifty-hour work weeks does have some advantages. Maintaining high-consumption lifestyles can be like feeding a beast. Rediscovering simple and less demanding living may actually benefit your spirit in addition to your monetary situation.
Reframe the situation
The biggest challenge of all for the older worker who feels diminished and devalued may be in reframing their predicament into something opportunistic. Although you didn’t intend or predict that the ground beneath your feet would shift so dramatically, nevertheless look hard for the silver lining.
For more tips and assistance with finding jobs for over 50 or you just need help with your job search and resume visit Boomers Next Step – Your Employment which focuses on the career issues of older workers or find out about our Professional Services.