They say that 50 is the new 30, but it may not feel like it if you’re over 50 and out of work. Whether you’re unemployed because of a layoff or because you mistakenly thought you were ready for retirement, looking for a job when you’re over 50 can be intimidating. Some of it is justified – ageism does exist – and some of it has more to do with how you see yourself than how others see you. Whatever your situation is, these tips will help you find a job with an employer who values your maturity and experience.
Plug in to Social Media.
Think you’re tech-savvy because you use email? Email is now considered old school. If you’re not on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (at least!), you may as well tattoo “too old to adapt” on your forehead. Today’s world exists largely online; if you want to participate, you have to be online, too. The first thing you need to do, right now (I’ll wait), is sign up for accounts on these four social networks. And just getting an account isn’t enough. You have to actually participate. That means you have to post updates and respond to posts made by others. You also need to have a resume in an electronic format, and it needs to include links to your social media pages. Intimidating? Maybe. But the best way to learn is by jumping in and doing it.
Know What you Want.
What’s your goal in finding employment? Do you want to continue climbing the career ladder? Are you just looking for enough money to make ends meet until you retire? Or maybe health insurance? Maybe you just want to feel productive. Whatever your goal is, making sure you understand it will help you focus your efforts.
Be Honest With Yourself.
Be realistic about what your options are. If you’ve been a senior executive with an outstanding track record, your age will actually be an asset. If you’ve done physical labor most of your life, employers might assume you won’t be able to keep up with younger workers. Either way, taking a hard look at your strengths and weaknesses will help you hone in on the best opportunities.
Be Honest With Potential Employers.
Older workers who get laid off are often overqualified for the jobs they’re seeking. That worries recruiters; they think you’ll work with them only as long as it takes you to find something better. Either apply only for jobs that match your qualifications, or have an explanation for why you’re willing to step back down the career ladder – and include that explanation in your cover letter. It’s all about heading objections off at the pass.
The kiss of death for older workers – especially when they’re being interviewed by someone 20 years their junior – is falling into the “I walked to school 20 miles, uphill both ways, barefoot in the snow” mindset. Hiring managers aren’t looking for know-it-all mentors; they’re looking employees who will follow their leadership. Make it clear that you’re ready and willing to do things differently than you have in the past.
Know Where to Look.
Some employers actively seek out older workers. Those companies should be your priority. Here are some places to find those leads:
- SeniorJobBank: I know, I know…I’m only three years away from 50, and I in no way consider myself a “senior.” I have kids 8, 9, and 11! But don’t let the name deter you from taking advantage of this awesome resource. There’s a searchable database of jobs with employers who are eager to hire workers over 50.
- RetirementJobs: This is another site that has a searchable database of jobs with companies that are actively recruiting workers over 50.
- Retired Brains
Your biggest obstacle in finding a job over 50 is your own perception that you’re too old. Sure, some employers may think that. But there are plenty who value the experience, maturity, and reliability that older workers offer. Target employers who value what you have to offer, show that you’re ready and willing to keep up with the times, and be flexible. If you do those things, finding a job will probably be a lot easier than you’re expecting.
photo credit: freeimages via lonewolfsh