Top 10 Tips For Job Hunters Over 50
Kerry Hannon, National Keynote Speaker, Author and Columnist.
"Spent some time feelin' inferior, standing in front of my mirror," sings Rod Stewart in his 1970s-era lyric.
If you're over 50 and looking for a job, feeling inferior isn't so unusual. The truth is, I know a lot of people who feel like castoffs in today's job market.
What are you up against? Some employers figure your salary demands are out of their ballpark, or that you're set in your ways, lack cutting edge skills, or perhaps even the energy to do the job. And then there's the nagging issue that you're not in it for the long haul. Retirement age lurks not that many years down the road for some seekers.
Here are ten tips to make you standout and get the job.
1. Cast a wide net. Don't try to replicate your old job in your previous industry. Change it up. Look at your skill set and past experience as transferable to lots of different challenges and fields. Reframe your experience. You're selling how your deep knowledge-base and skills can solve business problems in the future regardless of the employer.
2. Focus on smaller companies and nonprofits. They're more likely to value your experience. Fewer employees mean all hands on deck need to bring their "A" game. You can provide the depth of practical knowledge and versatility that's worth two junior hires, and the learning curve is not as steep.
3. Network. In this era of online resumes, it's all about who you know that can get you in the chair for a face-to-face meeting. People want to hire someone who comes with the blessing of an existing employee or colleague. Join LinkedIn. It's great way to pull together your professional network.
4. Ask for help. Many corporations provide career coaches, resume writing and counseling on a limited basis to help employees who have retired or lost their jobs. Skip the pride. Accept it. Check out career centers or local government agencies offering workshops on resume writing, career counseling, job fairs, and retraining programs.
5. Be up-to-date with the latest technology. You should be at ease with desktops, laptops and the basic software programs needed for the job you're applying for. Mobile technology should not be a stumbling block. Think iPhone, iPad, Android, Twitter, web navigation.
6. Keep your resume alive. Volunteer for a non-profit organization or do pro-bono work. Use your skills to create your own business or non-profit project at home. Add some classes to boost your expertise in a new arena if that's an area that appeals to you. Travel experiences, too, show that you've been actively learning and growing.
7. Pitch your age as a plus. Workers over fifty tend to be self-starters, know how to get the job done, and don't need as much hand-holding as those with less experience. Be able to articulate your value. Have some swagger. This is where a well-crafted resume is key. Achievements trump titles and responsibilities. Kick off your resume with specific examples of what you have accomplished in various positions.
8. Fine-tune your interview skills. Don't be nervous. It helps if you psychologically approach the interview as if you're a highly-paid consultant called in to trouble-shoot. Focus on the company's needs, not yours. Go beyond the current job description. By taking a genuine interest in the firm you're interviewing with, learning about the company's history and goals, and talking to people who work there, you can demonstrate that.
9. Don't be a know it all with a chip on your shoulder. Inevitably, the talk will turn to you. The interviewer needs to learn as much about you as possible, but steer clear of lengthy resume regurgitation. Answer questions with crisp, dignified responses. Take time beforehand to internally focus on your best moments, what situations you shine in, and be clear in interviews that if they put you in those situations, you will perform. Don't bad mouth past employers, even if you are bitter from being ushered out the door in a downsizing move.
10. Overqualified? Deal with it. That's if you want the gig. If you do, repeat after me: What matters to me at this stage is having the opportunity to work with outstanding people in a company whose values and products I believe in and where my skills and experience can be used in a meaningful way. They could only be so lucky to get someone who can bring even more oomph than they need.
Kerry Hannon is a national keynote speaker, author and columnist. Her expertise: personal finance, career transition, and retirement. Kerry's latest books are "Getting The Job You Want After 50 and "Love Your Job: The New Rules of Career Happiness." Other recent books include: What's Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond and Great Jobs for Everyone 50 +. To learn more about Kerry, visit her website.