Being fifty or older and out of work isn’t an enviable position to be in, but it isn’t hopeless either. Workers in their 50s are often too young to exit the workforce; however, finding a new job at that age can be challenging. Age biases is a real problem that exists among companies of all sizes, not to mention that if you can land a new job there’s no guarantee you will make as much as before. Undoubtedly it can be an uphill battle, but there are ways to optimize your chances of securing a job.
Keep Your Age Off of Your Resume
Since your resume is the gateway to interviews, you have to keep your resume age neutral to avoid having your resume tossed. That means avoiding any language or skills that will date you. For instance don’t say on your resume that you are proficient in Word Perfect since that application hasn’t been used in years. You also want to refrain from saying you have twenty-five plus years’ experience or using quantifying language that could reveal your age. Don't include every job you've had on your resume and don't list your work experience in chronological order. Rather, create a skills-based resume where you list all your skills and accomplishments up front.
Make Sure Your Skills Are Fresh And Up To Date
It is easy for your skills to become stale when you've worked in the same industry for several years. Your current marketing job might not require you to know what’s trending on social media, but the next company you work for may care a lot about social media. It's essential that job seekers over the age of 50 keep their skills fresh and what’s going on in the marketplace. That may simply require reading up on the Internet or taking a couple of courses. In short, the goal is to stay relevant to get hired.
Look The Part
Once you get past the resume process, it’s likely time for you to come in for a face-to-face interview. While you can’t change your age, you can tweak your appearance so that you don’t look older than you are. If you keep your interview wardrobe up-to-date and your hair and appearance current and it will be a lot tougher for a hiring manager to figure out your age. Since you are older than most candidates, and likely have a lot of experience, use the interview as a way to showcase your knowledge. That being said, avoid coming off as condescending, particularly if the person that is interviewing you is younger. Regardless of your age if you are overly arrogant or condescending, you are going to leave the wrong impression with the hiring managers.
Search For Jobs With Companies That Hire Older Workers
If networking with colleagues and industry players leads you nowhere, then you are going to want to focus your search in areas where older workers are welcome. The new high-tech start-up may not be the ideal job to apply for but jobs in banking, healthcare or consulting welcome the experience and knowledge of older workers. Checking the company’s website out before applying will give you a sense of the company's culture and whether or not you will be the right fit.
The Bottom Line
Finding a job at any age can be tough, but for older workers it is even more challenging. After all, no one wants to take a step down if they have been in their career for years. Thankfully, there are ways to stack the odds in your favor. Keeping your resume age neutral, staying fresh with your skills, maintaining an up-to-date appearance and searching for jobs with companies that value older workers can go a long way in helping you land on your feet after you've lost your job.