9 Ways To Screw Up a Job Search When You’re 50 or Older

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Older woman covering her mouth because she made a mistake during an online job interview for remote work on her laptop
Kues / Shutterstock.com

Millions of Americans are job hunting in their 50s, 60s and beyond. Some of these seniors are looking for a job because they love to work. Others are sending out resumes for reasons ranging from pink slips to financial need.

Seniors can be attractive job candidates. Many potential employers value older workers for their experience and work ethic and for the stability they bring to the workplace. But if you hope to land a job after 50, you must avoid some key mistakes.

Here are some crucial errors that can derail the job search of anyone who has passed the half-century mark.

1. Forgetting to edit your resume

Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

Today’s businesses get an avalanche of resumes every time they post a job opening. 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. 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 history 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.

For more, check out:

2. Being too proud to volunteer while you look

Happy volunteer
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

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 get out of the house and 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.

3. Failing to update tech skills

Stressed businessman at computer
Phovoir / Shutterstock.com

If there’s one thing that can separate older workers from the younger competition, it’s tech skills — or lack thereof.

While a hiring manager may automatically assume 20-something job candidates know 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 the position requires.

4. Not having a presence online

Middle age blonde woman using computer
Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

While you’re updating 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 to make a phone call to your references.

And what will they find when they do that? Crickets? Or worse, that angry letter 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.

5. Ignoring your networks

Older worker
pixelheadphoto digitalskillet / Shutterstock.com

You’ve been around the block a couple of times, right? Well then, put all those connections you’ve made to good use.

Pick up the phone, shoot off an email or send a text. Be direct and to the point. Tell people in your professional network that you’re looking for a new position and ask if they know of any opportunities.

For more, check out “9 Tips for Successful and Painless Networking.”

6. Being shy about emphasizing your experience

Quiet businessman
Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

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 that — and its plus side.

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, stress that you’ll need little to no training to hit the ground running, and how that fact can save the business both time and money.

7. Acting like you know it all

Senior man points finger up
A Lot Of People / Shutterstock.com

Emphasizing experience is good — to a point. You don’t want to make your track record look intimidating 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. The last thing young whippersnappers want is a mom or dad peering over their shoulders 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 of stories to share that highlight your work as part of a team.

8. Looking at employers who don’t value older workers

Age discrimination
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Rather than trying to convince a youth-centric company that you’re right for the job, it may be better to focus your efforts on employers who value older workers.

You may be able to find these employers through these resources:

9. Being unwilling to bend on income

Woman asking for money
Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

While your experience can be an asset, an employer might see dollar signs when they weigh it. Companies sometimes prefer to hire a younger worker who will be content with lower 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.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.