Sunday, June 19, 2011

50+ and Out of Work? Check Out These Tips

Finding a job is challenging for anyone in a painful recession, but it's even harder if you're over the age of 50. While it is illegal for employers to discriminate based on age, many older job seekers will tell you it happens every day. Employers are always looking to shed more expensive, older workers and clear the promotion path for younger employees.

Now that economic reality is colliding with the intent of baby boomers, most of whom hope and need to keep working past the traditional age of retirement; many find themselves in the position of having to look for new career opportunities.

So, what are the best strategies for landing a job when you are over 50?  When the question was posed on LinkedIn, hundreds of business people who've been on both sides of the hiring desk--employers and job seekers responded.

Interestingly enough, respondents weren't complaining about age discrimination or the recession. Both are accepted as a fact of life. Instead, they were pushing 50-plus job seekers to adopt smart strategies for selling themselves, networking aggressively, and generally cleaning up their act when it comes to interviewing.

Summarizing the wisdom of the crowd: You can get this done, and here is how:
  • It's not all about you - The most important thing in getting a job after 50 is to understand why anyone would hire you.  The only reason anyone gets hired is because the hiring manager sees the candidate as the solution to their problem.  Older job seekers too often want to talk about themselves in job interviews--narrating their resumes in too much detail, and even showing off the battle scars inflicted by unjust employers of the past.  Candidates should leave both their history and their attitude at the door.

  • Go into interviews prepared to listen and understand your prospective employers current situation and issues. Research the company thoroughly in advance. You are there to find a way to match up the employer's problems with specific areas of your experience that make you the obvious solution.

  • Don't whine about your last company, your financial situation, your health or your children.  The employer really doesn't care. Employers are interested in earning more revenue, not in providing you with counselling.

  • Technology really matters. Most baby boomers are comfortable with using basic business technology, i.e. computers, the web, e-mail and mobile technology.   The most desirable candidates can separate themselves from the Luddites that lurk in the applicant pool who want to get by on ignorance for the remainder of their working lives by absorbing all they can about the newest industry trends and becoming more knowledgeable and skilled with regard to how social media influences their future opportunities.

  • Make the cultural connection. Show younger hiring managers that you are not stuck in the past. Be brutally honest with yourself.  Understand how others perceive you.  Think about the way you look, the way you dress, the words you use and the attitudes you hold. If necessary, clean up your act before you enter the market.

  • Network creatively. If you haven't joined LinkedIn, do so immediately. It's free, and with a little investment of time you'll build a useful professional network that can help with your next professional move and build your knowledge. A LinkedIn profile also is a great way to show potential employers that you're up to speed on the web and social networking.

  • Include non-virtual networking as part of your job search strategy.   Try to attend as many industry and professional meetings and conferences as possible and don’t forget to make the time to attend family functions
Remember that unemployment is just a phase, albeit uncomfortable, and it happens to EVERYONE at some point in his or her lifetime.   The strategies listed above will give older job seekers a place to start when it comes to the next entry in their career history.
© Salvino 05292011

Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog hosted by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career This blog is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at