No matter who you are, hunting for a job can be tough. But, when you’re over 50? There are times when it seems downright impossible.
Technology keeps changing, the workforce just keeps getting younger and younger (seriously, some of these interns look like they’re 12 years old), and—unfortunately—there seems to be an element of age bias among some employers who seem to covertly hold, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” as their company mission statement.
You have tons of experience and value to bring to the table. However, you’re concerned that you’ll be consistently overlooked—either because companies see you as too expensive, too qualified, or too close to retirement age.
It’s a predicament, really. And, while I don’t have a time machine to instantly knock 20 years off your age, I can offer a few tips that are sure to be helpful to you more seasoned job seekers. Let’s get to it!
1. Tailor Your Resume (Yes, Really!)
This is advice you’ve heard echoed again and again. But, if you’ve simply brushed it off as something that’s only meant for those younger applicants who need to do everything in their power to present themselves as relevant? Think again, my friends.
Tailoring your resume (I can hear you groaning from all the way over here) is absolutely crucial for you as well. Why? Well, yes, you have a seemingly never-ending supply of experience and expertise to offer. But, guess what? Employers and hiring managers still only care about the stuff that’s most impressive and most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
I know—it’s kind of a buzzkill. You haven’t worked for 30 years only to touch on the simple highlights in your resume, after all. You want to brag about everything you’ve accomplished so far—including that community service award you got back in 1989.
However, it’s important that you only focus on the stuff that’s most relevant to your desired position. The same golden rule holds true for job seekers of all ages: The more you can make yourself seem like the perfect fit, the higher the likelihood of landing an interview (and maybe even the job!).
2. Brand Yourself
When you hear the word “brand”, it’s easy to think of a product—something like a sports car or a handbag. But, in the modern working world, you are a brand.
Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But, if you want to compete with the young blood in today’s job market, you’re going to need to understand why it’s important, as well as how to brand yourself successfully.
To put it in basic terms, branding yourself is a way of identifying your key strengths as an applicant, and then broadcasting those through tools like social media (think your LinkedIn profile!). It gives you a cohesive identity as a job seeker, and makes for easy personal promotion.
Still sound strange? I agree. But, it’s one of the necessary evils of job searching today. So, do your research and get to work!
3. Stay Modern
Some rules of the job hunt have remained the same for years, while others have changed drastically.
For example, you definitely do still need a formal resume in order to apply for jobs (those are here to stay—at least for a while!). But, if you show up unannounced and wait in the office lobby for an hour in order to deliver a hard copy (or worse, a floppy disk) of said resume in person? Well, you’ll immediately look outdated—and maybe even a little crazy.
It’s important that you stay current on the etiquette and expectations of today’s job hunt. Don’t move forward with the assumption that things don’t change, because they undoubtedly do. And, failing to keep up to speed will only plant seeds of doubts about your capabilities and qualifications.
4. Don’t Make It an Issue
Finally, try not to get too worked up about your age as you’re moving through your job hunt. Yes, I’m sure that searching for a new gig at this point in time has its discouraging moments. But, don’t think of yourself as old or aged out—think of yourself as extremely qualified.
You have years of hands-on experience and tons of refined skills that you’re bringing to the table. That’s not a bad thing, so stop viewing it as one! If you don’t make your age a huge issue throughout your search, chances are others won’t either.
Job hunting in your later years can definitely present some unique challenges. But, hey, look at it this way—you’re a seasoned expert with tons of valuable experience under your belt. This is nothing you can’t handle!