Finding a job isn’t easy for anyone these days, but older workers may face some special challenges when it comes to finding new employment. While illegal, ageism isn’t uncommon in hiring and many older job seekers may find that their age and experience can actually work against them when searching for work. This doesn’t have to be the case, however, as age can be just as much an asset at youth. Whether you are considering changing fields or researching online college reviews to continue your education, here are some tips and tools to help you make the most of your experience and wisdom and get the kind of job that you deserve.
These basic tips will help you think of ways to find work, stay positive and use your age to your advantage.
- Make sure you’re up-to-date with technology. One of the things that makes employers hesitant to hire older workers is the idea that they won’t be able to use computers or other office technology. Whether you know a lot or a little, make sure you’re on top of whatever the latest trends are and know the tech basics.
- Be flexible. You may not always be able to find a job that is exactly what your old one was or is just what you’re looking for. Be a little bit more flexible in your requirements and you may find something else that’s just as suitable for you instead.
- Keep a positive outlook. Looking for a job is never easy, but it doesn’t make it any better if you approach it with a sour attitude. Keep positive and good things are bound to come your way.
- Fight preconceived ideas. There are a lot of myths out there about older workers. Do your best to go against the expectation and be the best candidate for the job.
- Take some classes. If you’re not up-to-date or could use a refresher in certain subjects, sign up to take some classes. In some cases, you may even find that just being signed up is enough to get you the job before you’ve even finished.
- Use technology. Nowadays the web is the first place most people look when trying to find employment. Use all the resources available on the internet to help you get a job as there are many and some catered directly to your needs as an older worker.
- Give everything your all. Even if you’re unsure about a particular job interview, go in there and give it your best. Even if you don’t even up working for the company it doesn’t hurt to have more options.
- Don’t lie about your age. Hiding your age implies that you think you’re too old for a particular position and if you think you’re too old that might make your potential employer feel the same way.
- Accept you may have to take a pay cut. If you’ve been let go from an executive position making a six figure salary, the reality is that you may not be able to find another job paying this well, regardless of your age. Times are tough, so be aware that finding work may mean working for less than you’re used to.
- Focus on future potential. Employers aren’t always as worried about age as your potential for future success. If you have a great track record and can sell them on what you have to offer to their business, you have just as much of a chance as someone younger at getting a job.
- Offer to work odd hours. If you’re just looking for a job to make ends meet you may be able to give yourself an edge by working odd hours. This may not be a long term fix, but it can help you find something to give you money to pay the bills.
- Go without benefits if you already have them. If your spouse already has health care and you have a solid retirement plan already, you may be able to get an edge by forgoing the usual company benefits. This can make you more of a bargain to employers and won’t hurt you if you already have backup benefits.
- Stay healthy. Searching for a job can be tiring, frustrating and depressing but it’s important to make sure that you focus on your health as well while you’re looking.
- Be yourself. Being yourself has gotten you pretty far in life already, so stick to it. Act your age, show your experience and just be who you are.
- Find out about legal action. If you feel that you have been discriminated against unfairly based solely on your age then you do have grounds for legal recourse. Be aware, however that it likely won’t be easy to prove, but if you’ve got a solid case go for it. You shouldn’t have to suffer discrimination more than anyone else.
The Job Hunt
Looking for a job is rarely fun or easy, especially not for those out of work late in their careers. Here are some tips that can help make the process easier or at least a little less painful.
- Don’t wait to seek out employment. If you’ve been laid off, take a little time to figure out what you want to do but don’t wait forever to start looking. The sooner you start, the sooner you can address problems and start working towards solutions.
- Find employers that seek out older employees. There are many companies out there that actually seek out seasoned employees. Do a little research to see if there are any that you might be a good fit with. This listing from Wisconsin provides a good example.
- Consider former employers. If you’ve maintained good relationships with former employers who know you and your work, why not go to them to see if they have any openings? You already have the connections to get your foot in the door so make the most of them.
- Think about a career change. It’s never too late in life to consider a career change, especially if you’re feeling burnt out on your current career track.
- Don’t give up. Looking for a job isn’t going to be easy, it never is, but don’t let a few rejections break your will to seek out work.
- Consider temping. If you want to build experience in a particular field or even find an in to a particular business, temping can be a great solution. You’ll get short term assignments that could lead to longer employment or just some really helpful experience.
- Use your connections. One thing many older workers have in abundance is connections. Make use of these people in your personal network from friends to other business people to help you find potential jobs.
- Try joining professional associations. It doesn’t hurt to become part of a professional organization. Many times, these organizations offer job search help to members and you’ll have a built in set of people to network with who are in your field.
- Expand your target companies. Since you’ve got a lot of younger competition, expand your job search to include more companies than you would have at a younger age so you’ll improve your chances of success.
- Get help. If you’re floundering on your own, consider the services of a career coach or a recruiter to help you find work.
- Consider starting your own business. For those who have always dreamed of owning their own business, unemployment can be a motivator to finally pursue those dreams. Look for investors and draw up a business plan and you could be on the road to being your own boss.
- Explore a wide range of options. You may have your heart set on working in a particular field, but keep your options open. You may find a job that is ideal outside of where you would have looked had you stuck with your original plan.
- Don’t focus on titles. Even if you were a high ranking manager before, titles are unimportant in a job search for an older worker. Focus on your passion, your drive and your love of the job instead.
When was the last time you really updated your resume? If you can’t remember, check out these tips that can help you build a better resume and get hired.
- Don’t provide your complete work history. If you’ve been working for 20 years, it may not be wise to include every job you’ve ever had. Many resume experts advise only adding the last 10 or so years to your resume.
- Avoid clichés and tired language. Young or old, this rule holds true. Avoid using common resume phrases that will make you blend into the crowd instead of stand out.
- Go back to school. Check out low-cost classes and degree programs at www.onlinecolleges.net.
- Update everything. Go through your resume and make sure everything on there is current. Names of institutions and businesses may have changed and you want them to be appropriate for today, not years ago when you were working for them.
- Show a commitment to learning. Take graduate classes or emphasize any current training you’ve had to show you want to keep up and learn new things.
- Emphasize your experience. Experience is not a bad thing. Play up what you know about the field as this is one serious advantage you have over younger workers.
- Avoid functional resumes. Functional resumes list your skills in clusters rather than in chronological order like a traditional resume. While this format may work well for those who are changing careers or who have gaps in their employment history, it can sometimes seem like a way to avoid indicating your age to employers. Many resume experts advise using a combination of a chronological and functional resume instead.
- Use current terminology. One quick way to date yourself is by using old business terminology that’s been replaced by newer lingo, so try to learn what the latest terminology is for your field.
- Look at other resumes for current models. If you want your resume to reflect current trends, try using online resources and free models to figure out how you should be laying things out.
- De-emphasize dates. While you shouldn’t omit dates altogether, that doesn’t mean you have to flash them around either.
- Create a great cover letter. No matter what you have on your resume, your cover letter can be a great way to introduce yourself to an employer. Just make sure it isn’t a review of your employment history and offers information your resume doesn’t.
- Look at it from an employer’s perspective. if you were hiring for the position and received your resume would you hire yourself? Try to create a resume that shows your best assets and makes a great first impression.
- Keep it short. While you may have an employment history that goes on for several pages, try to limit your resume to just a few pages. No one wants to go through loads of resume pages anyway.
There’s no hiding your age in an interview, but these tips can help you score big in the process no matter how old you are.
- Don’t be unnerved by younger interviewers. You may be interviewed by someone significantly younger than yourself. don’t let this throw you off of your game. Treat this younger individual as you would anyone who is interested in hiring you.
- Make it clear you can work with younger employees. Age can become an issue in the workplace, especially if you’ll be managed by someone younger and possibly less experienced than yourself. Make it clear in the interview that you have no problem deferring to authority, even if that authority is young.
- Go the extra mile. If you’re really gunning for a certain position, make sure to do everything you can to make the best impression. In fact, it may not even hurt to ask what would make a person successful in their organization.
- Make sure they understand you can keep up. Many workplaces today are fast-paced and rely heavily on technology. You need to reassure employers that you can roll with the punches and keep up in this kind of environment.
- Stress a willingness to learn. Even if you aren’t familiar with every type of technology out there, you may be able to get by with stressing how much you’d like to learn about these new things and how willing you are to keep up.
- Make sure questions are legal. In any interview it’s important to ensure that everything being asked is actually a valid, legal interview question. Age discrimination is a crime, so if you feel a question is hinting at this find a polite way to answer or move on to the next question.
- Use your maturity to your advantage. In many cases, age can be a great asset. With it comes experience, wisdom and maturity that can make great assets to any job.
- Promote your work effort and loyalty. if you’re like many other older workers, you likely spent several years working for one company. Emphasize your loyalty and commitment as a big asset.
- Make sure you look up-to-date. Appearance, however superficial, can be a big deal in making a good first impression. It may be time to pick out a new suit or get some clothes that are up-to-date so you look fresh and able.
- Plan ahead. You don’t have to go into your interview blind. Review lists of common interview questions and think about how you would answer ahead of time.
- Aim to break stereotypes. As an older worker you are probably keenly aware of many of the preconceived ideas held about you. Do your best in the interview to dispel these myths and show that you are a valuable player.
- Spin it. No one is perfect, but part of success comes from being able to spin even your negative characteristics into something that isn’t so bad after all.
- Identify your benefits in monetary terms. Businesses, at the heart, are about making money. If you can identify a concrete benefit you offered former employers or ways you can do the same at this employer you’ll have some great bonus points when it comes to hiring.
- Focus on where you excel. There may be areas of your resume where you are weak, but try to steer the conversation towards areas where you are particularly strong.
Check these books out at the library or purchase them online for some helpful job search advice.
- Age Discrimination in the American Workplace: Old at a Young Age, by Raymond F. Gregory: Learn about the role age discrimination plays in the workplace in America and abroad.
- The Third Age: Six Principles of Growth and Renewal After Forty, by William Sadler: Learn how to make the most of your "third age" in this book that offers career and personal advice.
- Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, by Marc Freedman: If you’re looking for a second career later in life, this book can be a great source of inspiration and advice.
- Age Power: How the 21st Century Will Be Ruled by the New Old, by Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D: Learn how ideas about aging are changing as health care advances and people are staying younger longer.
- Age Works: What Corporate America Must Do to Survive the Graying of the Workforce, by Beverly Goldberg: Learn why your role as an older worker could actually be pretty important from this book focused on the aging workforce.
- Happy About Working to Stay Young: Expanded Careers for Boomers and Seniors, by Jacky Hood: This book focuses on making your career matter later in life and how you can keep working and stay strong in a society focused on youth.
- The Power Years: A User’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life, by Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D. and Daniel J. Kadlec: Read this book to learn how to make the years after 40 the best and most empowered of your life.
- Resumes for the 50+ Job Hunter: This book offers a wide range of sample resumes that can be great reference material for older job seekers.
- What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles: This book can be a good read for those looking for work or planning to work in another field regardless of age.
- The Executive Job Search: A Comprehensive Handbook for Seasoned Professionals by Orrin Wood: If you were pretty high up in the ranks in your former job, this book offers you some advice on how to be competitive in the job market, create good resumes and more.
One stereotype about older workers is that they aren’t tech savvy. Break down that misconception by using technology to further your job search through these networking tools.
- Ning: This social networking tool lets you create your own customized network, an ideal way to connect with other businesspeople or older workers on the hunt for jobs.
- LinkedIn: As one of the most popular business networking sites, LinkedIn can offer you a great way to get connected with those in your field.
- Ryze: Through this network you can create a profile and connect with old friends while making new connections.
- Xing: With over 7 million members, this site offers a wide range of individuals and opportunities for job hunters.
- Ecademy: This site allows users to market a business, get in touch with others, and even find jobs.
- APSense: Give your resume or business new life by creating a profile on this site and getting in touch with others in your field.
- Networking for Professionals: Create a profile on this site to get in touch with numerous individuals and businesses.
- Ziggs: With Ziggs you can learn how to create an online image for yourself, connect with other businesses and even find job listings that may interest you.
- FastPitch: If you’re planning on starting your own business, this site can be a great place to pitch your ideas.
- Social Networking Goes Professional: For those who don’t know a thing about social networking, this article from the Wall Street Journal provides some background and offers some advice on what to do.
Tutorials, How-Tos and Guides
These sites offer guidance, tips and information on making your job search more successful.
- Interview Tips for Older Job Seekers: Check out this article to learn some big things to do in an interview or things you should avoid at all costs.
- Resume Tutorials for All Job Seekers: If your resume is lacking, go through this tutorial to learn how to revamp it.
- Older Job Seekers Must Disprove Prejudices: Learn how you can fight some of the biggest myths that surround older workers in this article.
- Job Search Tips for Older Workers: Are you going about looking for a job in the right way? Here you’ll find advice and instruction on job hunting.
- Older Job Seekers and Job Interviews: Don’t Let Age be a Detriment: Here you can learn how to ace the interview process.
- Four Survival Tips for Older Job Seekers: Looking for a job can be especially tough on older workers. This article provides some advice on hanging in there.
- New Tactics for Older Job Seekers: Looking for some fresh ideas on how to be more successful in job hunting? Give this article a read.
- How to Make Age an Asset When Job Searching: You age doesn’t have to be an obstacle to finding a job. Learn how to make it your biggest asset from this site.
- Top 10 Things for Older Job Seekers to Keep in Mind: Learn what you should be considering in your job search from this article.
- Advice for Older Jobseekers Facing Negative Stereotypes: Read this article to learn how to fight ageism.
- 40 Tips for Job Seekers Over 40: This is a great collection of tips designed to help you prevent making major bungles and get you the job you deserve.
- Top 3 Job Hunting Tips for Job Seekers Over 40: Check out this article to learn some basic ways you can help yourself in your job search.
- Jobs For Grown-Ups: This Forbes article provides some great advice for job seekers who are over 40, from resume tweaks to interview advice.
If you’re looking for targeted career help, these specialty job search engines can assist you in finding the perfect job for you at any age.
- AARP Work: Members of the AARP should give their website’s job section a look for advice on finding work and dealing with ageism.
- 50Plus.com: On this site you’ll advice on life, health, money, travel and of course, work.
- Experience Works: This community organization is designed to help older workers like yourself get the training they need to be competitive in the workplace.
- RebootYou: Those looking to start a new career later in life can take advantage of the articles, advice and other resources on this site.
- RetiredBrains: Whether you’re looking for full-time, part-time or temp work this site can help you find a job.
- RetiredWorker: For those who are fast approaching retirement age but aren’t ready or willing to spend their days hanging out around the house, this site offers a wealth of job opportunities.
- Senior Job Bank: Check out this site to find job listings geared towards the Boomer generation.
- WiserWorker: This site believes that with age comes wisdom in the workplace. On it, you’ll find job search resources as well as listings for career fairs and more.
- Seniors4Hire: If you’re 50 or older this site is a great resource for employment opportunities.
- Senior Service America: If you’re an older adult looking to work in your community, this site can help provide you with information and ideas on how to do so.
- Jobs 4.0: Here you’ll find a great resources for job searchers who are forty and over, with listings in a wide range of fields and geographical locations.
- Simply Hired 50+: The jobs on this site are geared towards older workers who are nearing retirement age but aren’t ready to retire.