Over 50 and Looking for Employment?

How do you land a job when you are over 50, and the market is soft for your skill set? I’ve seen several short internet what to do lists on this topic, but I’d like to expand the conversation. Here are a few items to consider.

  • Some employers really do like hiring the right mature workers. Why? Some good habits have already been established:
  1. Concentrating on work while at work
  2. Showing up for work on time
  3. Requiring minimal direction or guidance
  4. Utilizing common sense or capitalizing on past experiences
  5. Remaining calm under pressure, and
  6. Climbing the ladder is not important. Doing a good job is.
  • Simplify your resume to highlight the important items:
  1. If you have longevity in your last one or two employers, list those only.
  2. If your title and accomplishments make you “overqualified”, then remove your title and “skinny-up” the accomplishments
  3. You’ll probably need several versions of a resume, as you may be applying for many jobs that aren’t quite on point. Focus the resume on the relevant accomplishments, even if you think they don’t do justice to your skills.
  4. Make sure your LinkedIn profile doesn’t contradict your resume. Be selective. You want to be found on LI. So, this is a careful balancing act.
  5. Limit contact information. In the cases where you are not filling out countless on-line applications, provide your name, city, email and phone number only
  • Target your search (not too broad and not too narrow):
  1. Don’t hold out too long.
  2. Target the right opportunity/company. Whenever possible, research the company on the Internet and see what the employee profiles look like. See if you can determine if the company will be amenable to someone who isn’t an identical fit. Don’t forget about smaller companies. And, do check Craigslist. You have to be very careful when answering ads, especially on CL. However, since it is very cheap to run ads on CL, many small to mid-size employers, as well as scammers, advertise on CL.
  3. Know what your deal killers are. If you know you can’t travel or you know you aren’t good sitting at a desk all day, then don’t target those jobs. You’re going to already feel like you are wasting time filling out applications with no reply.
  4. Don’t hold out too long. One common mistake I see is experienced folks waiting for the perfect job. They have a little severance, or some money put back, and figure they’ll ride out the storm. Adjust salary and job expectations as the market requires. I’ve seen people sit out of the market for two years. Set a target date. You might want to be selective at first, and broaden your search later. Or, if you have the time, start broad. You can always turn jobs down!
  • Keep life interesting and sharpen your skill set.
  1. If you are weak in software, take some on-line seminar type classes so you can send samples of your work, or talk about your up-to-date skills.
  2. Research the field so you are current on trends. Post short articles on LI.
  3. Remember to keep having fun. Looking for a job is tedious, time consuming and frustrating. Don’t fall in the trap of talking about how hard it is to find a job, or hanging out with others who are similarly situated. Keep positive. Make sure to go for a walk during the lunch hour or before/after working hours. Desperation and negative attitude show up in what you write and how you speak. They are the enemy.
  4. Maybe now is the time to take on a part time job just to keep a schedule and have a tad bit of income. You don’t have to put every job on a resume. If you are the type person who won’t look for a job while you have part time work, consider whether this is a good option for you.
  5. Can you make a hobby or passion into a small income stream? Sometimes dreaming big is great, but sometimes knowing you want to make a little cash is equally good. If you can enjoy a few hours of “work” a week that will pay a few bills, perhaps this is the time to branch out.

Hopefully this article includes something to help you along the way. Feel free to share your ideas as well. Happy Hunting!

LK Greer