Jobs For Over 50s: Strategies for Overcoming the Stereotypes

Tips for Searching Jobs For Over 50

Searching Jobs For Over 50: Strategies for Overcoming the Stereotypes

Anyone embarking on searching jobs for over 50 is aware that ageism is alive and well and that the older job hunter faces some unflattering stereotypes. Don’t make the classic job search mistakes. When searching jobs for people over 50 you will need a strategy to overcome the stereotypes that older workers are:

  • not technologically savvy
  • tired, slow, unenthusiastic and just putting in time 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.

Understand the technology that you need in your field

Boomers and other older workers may not learn the newer technologies as quickly as younger workers, but they can learn them and most older workers do have the skills required by the work place. If MS Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) are still a mystery to you, enroll in a class in a community college or training center immediately. Make sure you are current in the technology used in your field. If newer applications and technologies are becoming more common in your industry, take a class or workshop so you are familiar with your industry’s new standards.

Mature businesswoman holding an open file

Be tech savvy

Show that you are technologically savvy in the heading of your resume. Be sure it includes your email address and phone number. If it is relevant to the position that you seek, include the URL to your website.

Eighty percent of recruiters google applicants before contacting them. Google yourself and make sure the results are positive. There should be no indication of your age; some “find your classmates” and dating sites list your name and age. 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, hopefully you can convince them to remove it.

Maintain an online presence

You should have an online presence. 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. At the very least you should be on LinkedIn. If you need some time to learn about LinkedIn, you can get started by developing a profile using About Me dot com or Flavors dot me. Whenever you do a profile at a social networking site, be sure to create a complete profile. You do not want to give anyone the impression that you do not finish what you start.

Your Resume

Hopefully your resume implies that you are flexible and have learned new things in your past positions; your responses to interview questions should also assure the interviewer that you have recent accomplishments and that you are not stuck in your ways. Be ready to weave through your answers to interview questions the answers to the interviewer’s unasked concerns. Those concerns include is this candidate: overqualified; able to learn the new job or industry; adaptable and open-minded; and able to work with people of all ages including younger bosses. When interviewing, be sure to show enthusiasm in your voice.

Prepare well for an interview

Appearance and Image

When you get an interview, be sure that you come across as vital and enthusiastic. Don’t let anything that you can control create a problem. Whether you are a man or a woman you should wear an outfit that makes you look terrific and is appropriate for the job that you are hoping to get. Wear something that is classic and fits perfectly. Shoes and accessories should match and be stylish. Of course, your hair style should be contemporary. If you are a woman do something about your grey hair unless you are one of those lucky people whose silver hair looks stylish. Conversely men with white or gray hair or beard are usually called “distinguished”! If your glasses are dated in style replace them with frames that are more fashionable. Stained or yellow teeth age your face; getting your teeth whitened may be a worthwhile investment.

Interview questions

There are numerous books and websites that list the typical questions that you should expect. Practice answering these questions and 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.

Research prior to the interview

Before an interview, research the company, the job, and the potential boss (this is where LinkedIn can be a tremendous help) to get as much information as you can about the needs of the organization. This allows you to ask intelligent questions and prepares you to discuss how your background and skills will benefit this company. In other words, give them a reason to hire you! Many decision makers have mentioned that older candidates do a good job during the interview of telling their story, but they neglect to focus on what they can do for this organization.

Salary discussions

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 Jobs For Over 50s ‘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?)  You 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.

For more tips and assistance 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.

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