Let’s face it. Americans are obsessed with youth. All things being equal, most hiring managers tend to choose a younger person instead someone over fifty. There are many fields, like advertising and fashion that target younger buyers, where employers assume that younger employees will be more attuned to the market and have better computer and social media skills.
It may seem rather gloomy, but remember this: all things are rarely equal. In spite of employer prejudices, older workers get hired all the time over younger candidates when their skills and experience are the best match for the job.
Here are some tips for finding a job if you are over 50.
- Update your resume: You never know when an opportunity will arise that could lead to a job. Have an updated resume ready to go, so you don’t waste precious time preparing a new resume from scratch. Shorten your resume, keeping the focus on the last ten years with emphasis on new skills that you have learned.
- Network, network, network: No one likes to network, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Touch base with your contacts every few months. Otherwise, they may hear of opportunities and assume that you have already found a position. And never underestimate the power of being in the right place at the right time.
- Reassess your strengths and weaknesses: Work with a friend, counselor or coach. How you see yourself may be different from how others see you. When you understand how you are perceived in the job marketplace, you will be better able to identify the companies and job descriptions where you are most likely to be hired.
- Use social media: Hiring managers want to Google you. Your LinkedIn or Facebook profile is your opportunity show yourself in the best possible light.
- Volunteer: Job hunting is a lonely pursuit. Volunteer jobs can work wonders for you morale and also be an opportunity to pick up new skills and keep your current skills sharp. Volunteering in an area related to the job you are seeking will help you build connections that can lead to your getting hired.
- Practice interviewing: You need to be prepared when interview with employers who are younger than you are. Be careful not to come across as condescending or professorial. Look for opportunities to show that you are a team player. Focus on the accomplishments you have that are relevant to the job which you are applying for, even though these may not be the achievements you are proudest of. Sometimes it’s a good idea to let a younger interviewer know that you feel comfortable taking direction from whoever your boss is.
Above all, remember that every job search is a numbers game. The more people you network with, the more meetings and interviews you get, the faster you will find an employer who wants to hire you.