If you’re on the hunt for the latest job search advice, you’ve no doubt noted that much of it is geared toward entry-level candidates. What if you’re an older job seeker, among the 50-plus generation? Will the same tips and tricks work for you?
Some of it will. But you can avoid the trial-and-error testing of such advice by checking out the following tips designed specifically for older job seekers like you.
1. Lean Into Your Story and Experience
If you’re 50-plus, you’ve garnered a lot of life experience over the years. This can be valuable in many workplace situations. Think about the experiences you’ve had inside and outside the workplace, and how they might correspond to the job you’re seeking.
The next step is to tell that story to the decision-makers in the hiring process. A good place to do that is in your cover letter. After introducing yourself and citing the position you’re interested in, describe how your experience makes you the ideal candidate for the job.
In the next paragraph, you might choose to briefly explain why you’re making a career change or reentering the workforce after a career break. You don’t have to get too personal. Simply try to explain any potential “red flags” your employer might imagine.
2. Focus on Your Value, Not Your Limitations
According to career coach Jenny Foss, you should “try looking at sectors in which age isn’t viewed as a potential liability, but, rather, as an asset.” Think about which fields or companies might benefit from your knowledge and skill set.
Think, too, of jobs in which your age might make clients feel at ease – companies whose clients primarily consist of older adults, for example, or those that mentor the youth.
At the same time, you may need to realistically evaluate your physical limitations. Can you sit, stand, or walk about for long periods? Does the position require heavy lifting or strenuous activity? Humbly acknowledge when a position might endanger your health or that of a coworker. And don’t worry – there are plenty of jobs out there that will be a fit for both your skills and your physical ability.
3. Stay Relevant
It is important to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and advances, both in your specific field and in general usage.
Get Comfortable with Technology
The best way to stay up-to-date and comfortable using technology is to obtain and use various devices. These include laptop or desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Once you have a device, play with it! Contrary to common fears, you won’t be able to “break” it by clicking around and exploring. Learning by doing is how small children become adept at using technology – you can too!
You will also want to get familiar with commonly used programs and apps, including Microsoft Word, Email, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok. Many companies use these social media platforms to connect with consumers and advertise.
Finally, take your job search online. Many companies post their needs online.
If you still need some help getting the most from your devices, enlist the help of a younger relative or colleague or take a class.
Follow Your Field
You should also develop a strategy for staying up-to-date in your career field. For example, a medical professional would need to stay up-to-date on the latest treatments and procedures.
You can do this by subscribing to journals, reading resources online, taking continuing education classes, or attending industry events such as conventions, conferences, or seminars.
4. Edit Your Resume
You’ve acquired a lot of experience over the course of your career, but unfortunately, including it all on your resume could hurt rather than help your chances of getting a job.
What can you do? Audit your resume and make the following changes:
- Remove experience that is more than 15 years old.
- Look for and remove any information that might trigger age bias – for example, graduation years.
- Remove any training, education, or experience that is now outmoded in your field (for example, computer courses from the 1980s would no longer be relevant).
- Include “buzzwords” – new and popular industry or cultural phrases – where appropriate to prove that you “can speak to current market realities.”
5. Create an Online Presence
If you haven’t already done so, set up a LinkedIn account. This professional website is the online equivalent of a resume, and many hiring managers will seek out your profile before hiring you.
There, you can list your accomplishments, make comments, write articles, and provide links to things you’ve done online (newspaper articles about projects you’ve worked on, publications you’ve written for, etc.). You can also connect with people you already know. This type of networking can help you find job opportunities and gain endorsements for your skills.
If you are brave enough, you might even create your own professional website!