Job Search Success Strategies If You’re Over 50
by Guest Author, Robin Ryan
“I read about all the labor shortages, and hear that other colleagues are landing new, high-paying jobs, so why can’t I get one?” asked Cathy, a director in her late 50s. “I think it’s because of age discrimination. My resume gets recruiters to call, and they set up the next interview with the hiring manager. Then the Zoom interview happens, they see my white hair and wrinkled face, and after that meeting, the employer simply disappears.”
Jeff experienced a similar problem. He had held an HR manager role in a large Fortune 500 company. When Covid-19 hit, he lost his job. It’s been a tough road trying to get rehired. “I’m exasperated,” he said when he inquired about becoming a career counseling client. “I need to work another five years. I’m not getting any interviews. I think it’s my age that is turning employers off.” He was right because when I looked at his resume, he gave lengthy descriptions of jobs he held in the 1980s. No wonder employers thought he was too old to want to hire.
Bill reported that he was getting ghosted after the first interview. “I can’t hide my age. I’m 61. I’ve got a ruddy complexion, a bald head, and a white beard. I’m sure the reason I’m not getting hired is my age!” Each of these Baby Boomers then asked, “So, what do I need to do to land a job?”
Even though it’s a great time to look, age discrimination is a real thing that can hamper your job search if you are a mature worker. You need to neutralize any employer hiring bias about being over 50. Be sure your attitude reflects the belief that your best years are still ahead of you. To succeed, try these strategies:
Carefully craft that resume.
Your resume needs to be concise—no more than two pages—and targeted for the job you are seeking. Results are what employers care about. Your resume needs to be loaded with them. Note outcomes like creating new things, saving time or money, and adding dollars to the company’s bottom line. Be a skillful editor. Extract old sections from your experience. Delete anything not relevant to the job you currently seek. Focus primarily on the last ten years. Bring attention to key accomplishments and skills necessary to excel in that job, not things that are obsolete. These changes allow you not to look overqualified—you just look qualified.
Make your experience an asset.
Advertise in your resume, on LinkedIn, and during the interview that you have a superior work ethic. Discuss how reliable and productive you are. Explain how you deliver results and give examples of how you recently accomplished those outcomes. Stress that you are highly productive and get things done. Tell them you are customer-focused, whether it’s serving an internal or external customer. Good customer service is always essential. Explain how you are a very resourceful problem solver. You’ve experienced good times and bad. Mention a critical problem the employer suffers from, such as entry-level labor shortages or tough supply chain challenges. Then explain how your experience allows you to manage those situations better. Another key point is to talk about your ability to mentor others. You can teach and coach newly onboarded hires to learn their job more quickly. You also share your knowledge with co-workers, which fosters higher productivity levels.
Show you love learning.
Employers like curious people. They want an employee on top of industry changes and who displays initiative to keep learning new things. Demonstrate that you are constantly developing, producing, designing, building, innovating, improving, or making something new. Employers love employees who improve things, whether mastering coaching skills to help your team’s performance or figuring out a unique process that saves time and money. Innovations come from your quest to continue learning and applying yourself on the job. Innovations and improvements are desirable when companies search for new employees.
Drive the interview.
Attitude gets you far when you meet face-to-face, either online or in person. Exude confidence, be engaging, and show interest in the job. Be ready when the interviewer asks situational questions where you need to offer work examples. These can be very influential so spend time crafting these answers. You must give recent examples of how you brought value to an employer, solved the problem, or implemented new business solutions. This approach makes the employer feel comfortable that you will do the same if they hire you. Emphasize your strengths, articulate your past accomplishments, and explain that you have innovative ideas and can deliver results. Read up on the company and department. Review the interviewer’s LinkedIn profiles. Prep your answers for the likely to-be-asked-questions, so they are on the tip of your tongue. Develop an opening sales pitch to capture their attention by stressing your top five selling points. To learn how to do this effectively, read the article: Best Way To Open A Job Interview To Secure A Job Offer.
Summarize with a punch.
Stress how you can achieve their goals by giving examples of past accomplishments. You have seen so many types of problems. You can remain calm when faced with business cycles or crises and just hunker down and solve the issues. You have excellent team building and leadership experience that delivered significant results. Because of your breadth of experience, you think more globally and creatively to develop innovative ideas and solutions. Ask insightful questions. Be sure that when you leave, the employers know you want the job, and that the interviewer feels confident you will excel at it based on your answers.
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About the Author: Robin Ryan has been deemed America’s Job Search Expert by the Boston Globe. Robin has over 30 years of direct hiring experience and an extensive HR background. She is a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences teaching HR professionals and recruiters how to advance their own careers, along with other trending topics. You can reach out to Robin at email@example.com.
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