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Job Search After 50 (Part 1)
I’m over the age of 50, and I’ve just started looking for a new job. Any special job search tips for older workers?
Great question! It may be helpful to be aware that sometimes, companies hesitate to hire older workers because they tend to have more experience than younger ones, and (quite reasonably) will expect more pay. If that’s your story, be sure to tell the employer why you’ve chosen this particular job, knowing that the compensation will not be what you used to get.
Are you changing careers? If so, you’ll probably have to start at or near the bottom, with a commensurate salary. Explain your choice to the hiring manager (“This is a kind of work I’ve always wanted to do, but have never had the opportunity before.” “I’ve done a lot of career research, and it indicates this job would be a great match for my transferable skills.”)
Are you re-entering the workforce after some time away? You’ll want to explain what you’ve been doing that relates to the job of the moment. “I’ve been volunteering in a related field, so my skills are up to date.” “I’ve spent the last several years taking care of my family. They’re pretty self-sufficient at this point, and it looks like a good time for me to come back to the work world.”
If you haven’t looked for a job in quite a while, much has changed. You will have to have computer skills, and be able to demonstrate them. Most jobs involve, at a minimum, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, the Internet and Outlook. If you’re not up to speed on those, as well as others in your specific field, now is the time. LinkedIn is especially important for finding jobs; if you don’t have it, consider taking the LinkedIn Connection seminar offered at the American Job Center. You could also take a class at Frederick Community College, or start with some online tutorials. (By the way, if you have an AOL email address, some people will assume you are old. Save that one for friends and family; consider starting a new Gmail address for your job search.)
Resume writing has changed too. You don’t need to put down your entire work history; 10-15 years is plenty. Look at the job lead you’re applying to, and use it as a model. Use their words; use the form of the word they use; use the same order the job lead does. Your resume will have to appeal to an Applicant Tracking System too, which means you’ll need to let go of any fancy formatting on your resume. If the experience you want to emphasize is further back than you want to mention, consider a functional resume. Or consider having a section called “Other Relevant Experience.”
FCWS has many services for older workers, including a workshop created specifically for this population, called “Not Just a Number: Showcasing Your Strengths as a Mature Worker.” Check the calendar at frederickworks.com/events to see what’s available to you.