No one really wants to spend their time job hunting when they should be heading down the home stretch for retirement. And yet, for reasons ranging from pink slips to wanderlust, plenty of 50-plus workers find themselves sending out resumes.
Unfortunately, looking for employment at this age can leave you feeling somewhere between discouraged and hopeless. It doesn’t need to be that way. Indeed, some outlets are going so far as to use the word “hot” to describe the job market for older Americans.
While that last point may be up for debate, we’ve got some tips to help you overcome employer objections to your age. Read on for pointers on landing an awesome job even if you’ve passed the half-century mark.
1. Update your tech skills
If there’s one thing that seems to separate older workers from their younger competition, it’s their tech skills — or lack thereof.
While a hiring manager may automatically assume a 20-something job candidate knows their way around a computer and the Internet, they may assume the opposite of an older applicant. Prove them wrong by getting some tech training before beginning your job search so you can confidently say you’re able to use whatever programs and applications are required by the position.
2. Get yourself online
While you’re updating your tech skills, take some time to create an online presence. Today’s HR departments may be more likely to plug your name into a search engine than call your references.
And what will they find when they do that? Crickets? Or worse, that angry letter to you sent to the newspaper and nothing else?
You need to take charge of your online presence by, at the very least, creating a LinkedIn profile. This will serve as your online resume, and you’ll want to fill it with a professional photo and details about your work experience.
3. Edit your resume
The recruiting website ERE notes the average corporate job opening receives 250 resumes. Computer programs may first scan these and weed out the ones deemed lost causes. The survivors then go to a hiring manager who may give them only a cursory glance before deciding who moves on to the interview phase.
Age discrimination against older workers is illegal, but let’s face it, bias exists. Some employers weeding through hundreds of resumes may find it easy to cull the stack by dropping those from people they deem too old.
Don’t let your resume be a giveaway to your age. Eliminate the dates on your education and limit your work history to no more than the last 15 years. Both changes can help you avoid standing out as the elder job candidate.
4. Leverage your networks
You’ve been around the block a couple times, right? Well then, put all those connections you’ve made to good use.
Pick up the phone, shoot an email or send a text (if your circle is hip to that). Be direct and to the point. Tell them you’re looking for a new position and ask if they know of any opportunities.
5. Emphasize your experience
A deep network isn’t the only thing you’ve probably accumulated over the years. You probably have a boatload of experience, too. Put that to your advantage.
In fact, once you get to the interview stage, don’t skirt the issue. The interviewer may already be thinking, “wow, this guy is old” so go ahead and acknowledge it.
Explain that while you may not be the youngest job candidate to walk through the door, your oodles of experience will be a benefit to the company. Specifically (and assuming it’s true), stress that you’ll need little to no training to hit the ground running and that can save the business both time and money.
6. But don’t act like you know it all
At the same time, you don’t want your experience to look like a challenge to those younger than you. A 30-something boss may be worried a 60-year-old job candidate is going to want to run the show their own way. The last thing they want is a mom or dad peering over their shoulder and critiquing their every move.
Sure, you know you’re not going to act that way, but you’ve got to convince the interviewer of that as well. Be enthusiastic about the current business leadership and have a couple stories to share that highlight your work as part of team.
7. Look for employers who value older workers
Rather than trying to convince a youth-centric company that you’re right for the job, it may be saner to focus your efforts on employers who value older workers.
You may be able to find these employers through these resources:
- Experience Works
- AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50
- National Older Worker Career Center
- Senior Service America
8. Be willing to bend on income
While your experience can be an asset, an employer might see dollar signs when they consider it. They may prefer to hire a younger worker who they assume will be content with cut-rate wages.
Of course, you deserve to be well compensated for your experience. However, some income is better than no income, and if you want to get back into the workforce quickly, your best bet is to be flexible with your income requirements.
9. Volunteer while you look
If your job search isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like, make good use of your downtime. Volunteering can be an excellent way to not only get out of the house but to also make connections that could potentially lead to paid work.
You could volunteer for an organization you already know or head to VolunteerMatch to find new opportunities. Don’t overlook volunteering for your local Chamber of Commerce or professional organizations in your field of interest.
10. Become your own boss
When all else fails, you can always make your own awesome job if you can’t find it elsewhere. Use your experience to launch a business or work as a consultant.
For inspiration, check out our article on how to turn a hobby into a business.
Are you an older job seeker? Tell us about your experience in the job market by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.