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The Over-50 Job Search

Looking for a new job is never easy. This is particularly true given the business climate of the past few years. Add to this a more mature worker and the process can be fraught with many challenges.

But as retirement age gradually increases so does the number of people looking for a new job later in their career. This pattern is also influenced by the decline of “lifetime employment” that characterized many a career in the past.

So what does the more mature job seeker need to be mindful of that the newer worker does not?

The Resume

In the realm of resumes the issues usually surround omissions rather than errors. One common omission is leaving out the date of one’s graduation from college. This only delays the inevitable. It does not actually avoid anything because before hiring someone most companies and certainly most reputable recruiters do a degree certification. In order to do this we need the year of graduation.

Another prevalent resume omission is early work history. The reason for this may be both to avoid the “age issue” as well as to comply with the erroneous belief that resumes must be only one page. In fact, early experience can be very relevant and provides important insight into a person’s career path. Extensive details do not necessarily need to be provided (they can be filled in during an interview) but dates, titles and companies should at least be provided in order to present a complete picture on one’s career. And, as for the 1-page fallacy, it is just that, a fallacy. Better to provide two (or sometimes three) pages of meaningful, well written information than a jam-packed, small font single page.

The Interview

In terms of the interview, accurate and complete resumes make for interviews that are more targeted and appropriate to the job. No one wants to waste their time preparing and interviewing for a job they are not qualified for.So one more reason to be detailed and accurate on the resume.

The interview is an opportunity to communicate both your interest in and qualifications for the job at hand. Older candidates should prepare in the same way as anyone, but they have the added advantage of bringing more knowledge and experience to the table. This should be viewed and presented as an advantage and not an apology.

The older job candidate should also be mindful of and emphasize other competitive advantages: less or no child-rearing obligations, increased geographical mobility that comes with children in college or even working in their own career and advanced stability that hopefully has been cultivated over time.

Being in the job market as an older person should also be used as an opportunity to improve and update your skills. This should include familiarizing yourself with various forms of social media which incidentally can have the dual advantage of leading the way to new job opportunities and connections. Being current on the practices and tools of whatever your industry and position is a minimum. The interview should be an opportunity to showcase this facility and knowledge.

Finally, there is a commonly held perception that seniority costs more. Be prepared to discuss this and either provide justification as to why or an admission as to your flexibility.

Bottom Line

Job searching at any age is tough. At a later age it can be even more burdensome but with proper preparation and explanation what some might perceive as a disadvantage can be presented as merit and virtue. As always, it is how the message is presented that can make the ultimate difference.