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40 Tips for Older Job Seekers That Actually Get Results

author Jacob Share, JobMob

I just turned 39 a few months ago. If I was job searching today, some places wouldn’t think twice about rejecting me for being too old.

And you know what? I don’t mind. Every company, every team, is entitled to hire whoever they think will be the best fit.

As a job seeker, it’s up to you to research companies and teams upfront, before you apply, so you can estimate if you’ll be a good fit.

As an older job seeker – 35+, 45+ or even 65+ – it’s up to you to research companies and teams upfront, before you apply, to see if they have a history of hiring older workers so you can better estimate if you’ll be a good fit.

Here are 40 tips to help you along the way.

1. Choose a direction

Start by deciding what you want to do next. Emily Allen, manager of the Workforce Initiative Program at AARP: for older workers, it’s often “the first time in life that they can consider what they want to do rather than what they need to do.” (via CareerJournal.com)

2. Get a forward-facing resume

Midlife job seekers need a resume that looks forward, not backward. To quote from the article- “a résumé shouldn’t read like the testimonial at your retirement dinner.” Rather- “Change the perspective from “look at everything I have done,” to “look at everything I can do for you.”” (via Forbes.com)

3. Be proud of yourself

Don’t be defensive and don’t omit dates. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, so be proud of what you’ve accomplished along the way and be even more enthusiastic about what you have yet to accomplish.

From BBC News:

4. Ageism happens; live with it

Age stereotypes exist no matter how old you are: “the worst thing a job seeker could do is try and emphasize the positive qualities which employers associate” with your age.

5. Emphasize your “younger” qualities

Play up any qualities you have that are usually associated with younger people.

6. See through the jargon

Resist being put off by younger-sounding ads that use terms like ‘fast-paced’ and ‘multi-tasking’. Growing a family requires tremendous multi-tasking skills, so know that you can compete with anyone.

7. Learn new skills and technologies

Everyone knows how difficult it is to keep up with an evolving field, all the more impressive when you’ve been doing it for a long time.

8. Be open to new careers

Think about the skills you have that are transferable to another industry or profession; it’s never too late to find a dream job.

9. Join a support group

Online or off, join a group of people like yourself for support, advice and networking purposes. Join a forum or community on Facebook, LinkedIn, or perhaps a local job seekers club.

10. Employ yourself

With a lot of experience, it may be straightforward enough for you to enter consulting, doing the work you know but charging higher prices than former colleagues.

11. Exercise

Stay healthy by exercising and eating a balanced diet. This is always important, more so when you’re in a difficult transition period between jobs. There are over 10 good reasons to do this.

12. Make time for friends and family.

Job hunting is similar to actors auditioning for a role; there can be many rejections before a break comes and you will need every bit of encouragement that they can give you.

13. Consider volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to “keep a work-based routine and keeps you involved in the community” which also translates into many networking opportunities. Here are 10 Best Practices to Volunteer Your Way To a Paid Job.

From Job-Hunt.Org:

14. Refresh your expertise

Update your knowledge before sending out resumes. Even if you’ve been keeping up with new skills and technologies, you may have missed the latest industry jargon and trends.

15. Focus your resume

Limit your resume to two pages, and focus on the past positions that are most relevant and impressive with regards to the job you are applying for.

16. Relate to younger interviewers

If you’re interviewed by a younger manager, make a point of describing situations where you worked well with younger people, especially if they were younger leaders.

From Quintessential Careers:

17. Aim for SMEs

18. Target companies properly

Aim for companies that embrace older workers. SimplyHired 50+ is a job search engine specializing in this domain (US-only, unfortunately). RetirementJobs.com is another.

19. Suggest wisely

If your kids are old enough that you spend less time with them than you used to, offer to put in hours that are difficult for younger people who do still have family obligations to manage.

20. Temp to improve

Registering with a temp agency is a good way to update your skills or learn new ones, especially if you are someone who prefers ‘learning by doing’.

More from Quintessential Careers, on resumes:

21. Don’t go overboard on experience

List about 15 years’ worth of jobs on a resume, and only mention others if you have a compelling reason.

22. Choose the most appropriate resume format

Consider a chrono-functional resume style to emphasize relevant skills.

23. Protect yourself

Soften the job titles on your CV as necessary to avoid appearing overqualified.

24. Show recent achievements

Be sure to specify any recent professional training courses you attended in order to demonstrate your willingness and ability to stay up-to-date.

25. Be creative regarding your skills

Looking for your first salary after a long time as a homemaker or volunteer? Learn to portray your skills as transferable to your next job.

Quintessential Careers on interviews:

26. Be cool in interviews (and out)

“Realize that you will probably be interviewed by someone younger than you, and don’t be unnerved by that situation.”

27. Prepare for interviews

“Be prepared for interview questions that are inappropriate, borderline illegal or downright unlawful.”

RetirementJobs.com on resumes:

28. Avoid appearing outdated

“Check for arcane acronyms.”

29. Be clear about what you bring to the table

“If you have good computer skills, be sure they are highlighted to help overcome the perception that older people are less computer savvy.”

30. Focus your resume, the right way

“If you are looking for career continuation… use a more traditional resume. If you are planning to change significantly… summarize your long work career in a single paragraph. Then focus… on skills you have developed and accomplishments… that are applicable to your new career focus.”

I’ll add…

31. Get a second opinion

Of your resume, of your way of dressing, etc.

Look in the mirror, or perhaps have someone do it with you.

32. Don’t give yourself excuses

Prevent yourself from feeling that you missed an opportunity solely because of your age. Most of the time it simply isn’t the case, so avoid clouding your understanding of what the issue really was and focus on any potential improvements for the next interview.

33. Learn recent job search techniques

In addition to JobMob and QuintCareers (above), subscribe to a handful of other great job search blogs.

34. Do a startup

People tend to associate startups with young go-getters and will be more likely to remember a standout older person taking those same risks. Leverage that recognition along with your experience and contacts as you move forward. Plus – with a longer credit history, banks are more likely to help you with financing than a student who only recently opened a first account.

35. Do a startup where your exit strategy is a job offer…

… at another company. As you make progress with your new business, job opportunities will arise through your new network of contacts around the startup.

36. Create your own networking group

Do a startup of a third kind – take the initiative to form a local support group or job club if you can’t find one in your area.

37. Network, network, network.

Many contacts accompany much experience over a long career, and you should use that broad reach to find the people that can help you most.

38. Boomerang

Consider boomeranging- returning to work for a former employer. You may still know people on the inside who can vouch for you.

39. Just be yourself

Don’t try to act young in your eyes, you will just look old in their eyes. Always be yourself- it has gotten you this far already.

40. Hire a good job search coach

Especially one who understands older job seekers.