Ageism in the workplace is very real but if you’re over 50 you can make your job search a little smoother by changing up your job-seeking strategy to incorporate some new tips.
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I’m happy to today to present this guest post by Carol A. Cassara of A Healing Spirit today to discuss a very real issue that will face many of us as we get older: the increasing ageism in the workplace and how difficult it can be for many of us who are over 50 to find a job in our current youth-oriented job market. Carol is offering a few tips to help make our job search more focused and how we can make ourselves more attractive to employers.
Getting a job after 50 in this youth-oriented culture takes a bit of strategy. Employers who like seeing a little grey hair because it denotes experience are out there, but by and large, the job market caters to the young. Younger workers can be paid less and they’re tech-savvy in an increasingly technological world, both attractive factors to hiring managers.
However, there ARE things we can do to make sure we’re positioned better than most experienced workers, and here are a few:
Create an Age-Savvy Resume
Make it all about experience, not age. Eliminate all graduation dates and other items that denote age. And don’t include your first few jobs. Chances are they were entry-level and don’t matter as much as your mid-level and more senior positions. Most of the time you can drop experience that’s 10-15 years old.
But be sure to make your last couple of jobs as impressive as possible.
If you can, quantify results you got. “Decreased expenses by 20 percent.” “Increased sales by 30%.” Any accomplishment you can quantify in percentage of benefit to the employer will get attention. Focus on what’s most important to hiring managers in your industry.
A long resume is unappealing, so keep yours to two pages and make sure you’ve inserted keywords so that resume-scanning software used by big companies picks them up.
Update your LinkedIn profile so it matches your resume. Recruiters use LinkedIn all the time so having an updated profile that reflects your skills and ideal job is smart.
Become a Tech-Savvy Employee
Stay current on the technology used in your industry. There’s a misconception that older workers aren’t tech-savvy. Be sure your resume reflects any tech skills and training — and be sure you have the knowledge to back those claims up.
Katy’s Note: If you need to brush up on your skills, check out SkillShare and LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com). Many local libraries offer free passes to LinkedIn Learning so you may be able to update your skills for free!
Position Yourself as a Team Player
The hiring manager (and supervisor) may be younger than you. That’s why it’s a good idea to point out ways in which you have been a team player. Younger managers may feel insecure having an older employee who has more experience so find ways to (tactfully) reassure them that you are not interested in their job but that you are willing to share anything they want to know when and if they want to know it.
It can be hard when you know you have deeper experience than the manager, but if you want the job you’ll have to rein in the normal human tendency to tell them how it should be done. Even when you know a better way.
Know what You’re Looking For but be Flexible & Realistic
Even if you’re aiming for a full-time permanent position, you may be offered contract, temporary or part-time work. Think through how you might respond. If you have the flexibility to wait it out, you’d have one answer. But if you need the work you might consider taking it as you continue to look for the job you really want.
Consider your salary requirements. If you’re 50 with 25 years of experience, a hiring manager might think a 40-year-old candidate with 15 years of experience is just as good a prospect, with the added bonus of a lower salary. This is what you could be up against, so research salaries in your industry and be reasonable about your expectations.
Practice makes Perfect
It may seem awkward to practice an interview with a friend, but it’s a great way to smooth rough edges and get comfortable in interviews, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve looked for a job. Strive to be energetic and engaging in an interview.
And even if you aren’t interested in a job, take any interview offered. It’s a chance to practice and…you never know.
Many (if not most) jobs are filled by word of mouth so network, network, network., with friends, family and even strangers. Make sure everyone in your circle knows you’re looking for a job—and what kind. You might even join a few local networking groups if you think they might be helpful.
Age Discrimination in Hiring Exists
And it’s hard to fight. That’s why a strategic approach is so necessary. Still, one way employers practice age discrimination is to seek 5 to 7 years of experience to will weed out older employees.
A strategic, age-savvy resume and LinkedIn profile will position you and your experience as valuable —because you are, and it is.
If you’re looking at a life transition—career, job, retirement, relationship or even midlife—check out Carol’s latest retreat meant for those in our age group who want to design an awesome new chapter of life. Find information at AHealingSpiritRetreats.com.
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