By Anne Evenson
Later in your career, you may run into challenges when looking for new employment opportunities. Here are some steps to take to be successful in your job search.
“Older workers bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, making them an asset for organizations seeking dedicated and experienced professionals.”
Nan McKay, Speaker and Board President
In an ideal world, everyone should have the same employment opportunities, but unfortunately, we live in the real world, where that is often not the case. If you’re over 50, you may have noticed subtle or overt age discrimination in your workplace or while searching for your next job. If you’re 60 or older or approaching retirement, you may have encountered many challenges in this late stage of your career. While none of us can turn back the clock (wouldn’t that be nice!), there are steps you can take to land a new job so you can keep working as long as you need or want.
Face the Facts
Begin by taking stock of your situation and, when necessary, make changes or updates to stay relevant in your current industry or transition to a new one. For example, while you’ve likely been in the workforce for a significant amount of time, you may need to adjust your salary expectations. Perhaps your skills aren’t up-to-date, or your position’s pay range has decreased. Upgrade your skillset and knowledge base whenever possible, and consider the value of non-monetary benefits like increased flexibility or more time off when looking at new jobs.
The role of technology in our culture is shifting faster than ever before, and in most fields, it’s imperative that you keep up with these technological advances. While this can often feel daunting, keeping current on the latest software, hardware and applications related to your role will benefit your career and brain. Studies show that people who consistently adapt to new information and communication systems at work have improved memory, cognitive abilities and more fluid intelligence.
Accept that you will probably work with people of different generations with various work styles and life experiences. Many of them will be younger than you, so try to use this opportunity to learn new skills and technology while connecting with folks you might not otherwise interact with outside of work. Remember to be cognizant of stereotypes and biases and work hard to combat them by showing everyone that being over 50 is a time of vibrancy, not decline.
Create An Evergreen Resume
How you structure your resume can redirect attention onto things like your knowledge, skills and experience rather than your age. Instead of creating a chronological resume, consider opting for a functional or targeted resume.
First, make it shorter; you don’t need every job you’ve ever had for several decades. Only include recent and relevant employment and experience. Then, remove school graduation dates or other clues to your age that someone may use against you during the hiring process. Always use a mobile phone number rather than a landline. If you’re still using an outdated personal email address you set up many years ago, create a new professional email address that includes your first and last name with a more contemporary domain like Gmail.
Lastly, include applicable social media links to platforms that you’re active on professionally, especially LinkedIn. Hiring managers still primarily use LinkedIn to uncover a complete professional picture of who you are and who you know.
Market Yourself and Network
Presenting yourself and connecting professionally while looking for new employment opportunities may look different now than when you started your career, but the components are the same. First impressions are everything, and networking is critical.
Contemplate a makeover and go for a look that’s authentically yours while remaining timeless. Consider your hairstyle, clothes, shoes and accessories so people notice you and not your dated appearance. Search for terms like “workwear fashion trends,” “what to wear to work,” or “office outfit ideas” + the current year, and you’ll discover all the latest workplace styles.
Once you’ve refreshed yourself on paper and in real life, revamp your LinkedIn profile. Depending on the field you work in or aim for, you may even create a personal website highlighting your knowledge, skills, experience and capabilities. These websites aren’t only for marketers, designers and visual artists; they’re a great way to showcase your projects, personality and potential value as a future team member. Also, consider whether social media could be helpful with your personal branding efforts. Facebook and Instagram are excellent platforms you can use to tell your story.
Networking is still one of the best ways to find employment no matter when or where you are in your career. Though in-person events still exist, a lot of networking happens virtually too. Try networking websites like Eventbrite or Meetup, or check your local chamber of commerce. Look for employment opportunities in the real world by attending conferences, volunteering or working part-time. Remember to talk to your friends, colleagues and mentors, as these people know you and are likely to be good sources for recommendations. However you choose to connect professionally, look for people in management and leadership positions at organizations that value wisdom and experience.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reinvent Yourself
Just because you’ve worked in healthcare or sales your whole career doesn’t mean you must stay in those professions forever. Whether you need or want to find another job, ensure it’s the one you really want.
Consider whether you want to work part or full-time. Is salary the most critical consideration, or are benefits more important? What kind of people do you want to work with? How crucial is it that the values of the organization you work for align with your values? Perhaps you’re moving to be closer to children or grandchildren.
Whatever your motivations are, check out online job resources like Retired Brains or Retirement Jobs to search for jobs with certified age-friendly employers. Simply browse jobs by state and read helpful articles about the best places to work for employees over 50.
For some people, the benefits of working as long as possible aren’t just financial; they can also keep folks engaged, inspired, happy and healthy. Look at your age as a new phase of your life that includes positive attributes like wisdom, experience and clarity rather than only things you’ve lost. This kind of mindset is the perfect way to approach your job search.
Anne Evenson is a native Austinite and a proud Veteran’s spouse with over 20 years of marketing, communications and program coordination experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. She is also a sculptor, jeweler and all-around dabbler in the arts and loves to help military-connected individuals discover their inner creativity.
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